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Recent crimes put students, parents on edge

The Parthenon

Published: Friday, January 25, 2013

Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 13:01

Recent crimes near Marshall University have made students, residents and parents concerned. In three days, the Huntington Police Department and the Marshall Police Department responded to two armed robberies and a sexual assault. All three crimes took place near 20th Street, south of 5th Avenue. Though three suspects have been arrested, the sexual assault case remains open.

Coleen Wermers, music education major, is a former victim of sexual assault, and said crime near campus can be distressing. Wermers immediately became worried once she received the MU Alert about the assault.

“I was raped when I was 16-years-old. It was an awful experience that I can never forget,” Wermers said. “Seeing the alert brought back unwanted memories,”

Justina Knight, a sophomore nursing major, said she has a class that ends after dark and she is uncomfortable walking to her car after the recent incidents.

“It’s creepy walking to my car now,” Knight said. “I always carry pepper spray with me, but now I have it in my hand, ready to go.”

After these crimes and several phone calls from concerned parents, HPD and MUPD has increased patrolling in the affected area. MUPD urges students to use the police escort service by calling Marshall’s Office of Public Safety.

“If you don’t feel comfortable, make that phone call,” Jim Terry, Director of Public Saftey, said. “Our main concern is to ensure our students’ safety and security.”

Terry encourages students to be more aware of their surroundings and to create fewer distractions for themselves.

“Know where you are and who you are around. Don’t text or talk on your phone because that can distract you,” Terry said. “Keep your eyes open.”

Despite the recent scares, some students and MUPD still think campus remains a relatively safe place.

“I feel safe on campus and I think our police do a pretty good job of keeping us safe and alerting us when something happens,” Wermers said.

MUPD and HPD continue to work together on the sexual assault case. In the mean time, Terry said to be cautious but not paranoid.

“We all need to be more aware, but we cannot allow our fear to drive all of our actions,” Terry said.

For a police escort, call 304-696-5437 and for MU Alerts, go to myMU and sign up. For emergencies, dial 696-HELP or 911.

Josie Landgrave can be contacted at

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