Residents wary of trail after assault

By CATHY LOGG

Herald Writer

EVERETT — The Interurban Trail is popular with joggers, bicyclists, inline skaters and other outdoor athletes, but Monday’s brutal attack on a 14-year-old girl has scared away some people accustomed to using the section south of the Everett Mall.

"I’m never going to go on the trail again," said Dawn Morrissey, also 14.

Like the victim, Morrissey lives at Everett Country Club Apartments, where the trail is close by and convenient to use.

Some of her friends said they won’t go on the trail unless they’re accompanied by a group of boys.

"I don’t feel safe on the trail at night," said Jennifer Matthiesen, 13.

Some adults at the sprawling apartment complex also have concerns, but because of the unsolved attack that left the victim in critical condition, none wanted their names used.

"My boyfriend jogs (the trail) every day," one woman said.

She’s worried about the Silver Lake rest area, which she said has been the scene of problems in the past with homeless people.

Several neighbors said vagrants have confronted or frightened people on the trail. Police are not targeting them in this investigation.

At least in the recent past, the trail hasn’t been the site of reported problems, Everett police Sgt. Boyd Bryant said.

As the trail system improved, more and more people have used it, he said.

"There have been transients," Bryant said. "Transients in the area camp any place they can, any wooded area. They camp under overpasses, areas bordering the highways, railroad tracks. People who are homeless find a place to go.

"You know if you’ve got a rest area, there’s open restrooms and water and what have you," he said.

Everett police look for vagrant camps because the city has a no-camping ordinance, he said.

The Washington State Patrol has an office at the rest area.

"We don’t see a lot of transients in there," State Patrol Lt. Mark Thomas said. "We may have some people who park in there for a few days."

Over the past couple of years, troopers have had a problem combating prostitution at that and other rest areas, he said.

In an effort to solve that problem, state Department of Transportation crews have increased lighting and cut back brush to reduce places people can hide, he said.

It’s possible vagrants who live in the area could cause problems outside the rest area, he said.

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