The woman knew she shouldn’t be walking home like this. Alone. In the dark. So late at night.
She did it anyway.
She wasn't far from Union Station when she noticed the man, who seemed to appear out of nowhere and was following too close for comfort. He made a comment about her shoes, saying they looked like cowboy boots. She got nervous and picked up the pace. That’s when she slipped and fell hard, face-first on the ice.
“He was immediately on the ground beside me,” she says. “And he ripped off my shoes and started tugging on my slip-on stockings that I had on."
The man pulled at the stockings of the woman, who didn’t want her name used in this report. She says he “literally ripped them to shreds” and fled with her cell phone, which had also fallen to the ground.
"I just thought, ‘What the hell is happening?’” she says. “This is the weirdest thing in the world."
The woman waited for a bit then reported it to the police. Although her phone was taken, she says she was still hesitant to file a report.
"I was kind of nervous about going in there,” she says, “because I thought this is going to sound totally ridiculous or they are going to think this is a total waste of their time."
They didn’t. A detective followed up with the woman and told her he was investigating a few other similar incidents in which a suspect had focused on the person’s shoes. The same detective called me this week, wanting to hear about a man who took pictures of my feet near Union Station during an uncomfortable incident that ended when he tried to kiss one.
The woman and I had different experiences with MPD. I was initially given the brush-off when I went to the station and was so insulted that I sent a text message to a friend mid-visit that read “MPD: not awesome.” No one took my name or number. I left nearly in tears, after a desk officer gave me an patronizing lecture on safety. I didn't take notes, but I remember the phrase “real crime” came up.
This woman, on the other hand, filed her report and was then contacted by an officer who wanted follow up.
I'm not sure if our incidents were related. Her's seems much scarier, and the suspect in this case made off with her phone. But they occurred in the about same area, late on a weekend night. We also gave similar suspect descriptions to the police, but both think it would be difficult to pick the man out of a crowd if we ever saw him again.
“It happened so quickly that I was just kind of in a state of shock,” she says of the attack. “Really the only thing that was going on [in my head] was just 'Get out of here, get yourself out of here.'"