Neighbors on alert after woman attacked along a trail in Verona

Residents say they’re avoiding walking alone and paying closer attention to their surroundings.
Published: May. 19, 2021 at 5:29 PM CDT|Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 7:10 PM CDT
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VERONA, Wis. (WMTV) - A neighborhood is taking extra precautions after a woman in her 60s was attacked Monday night on a popular state trail.

The attack took place a few hundred yards from the Verona Police Dept., which Sgt. Josh Christensen says was a brazen move by the suspect.

“Whether or not they knew the police department was here is another factor, we don’t know that for certain, but it is kind of jarring that somebody would take those steps to victimize somebody so close to our building,” said Christensen.

Neighbors say the trails are well-traveled, especially in the warmer months.

“This time of year is the best time of year for living in this area because of the trails,” said Sheila Kuhn, who’s lived in the neighborhood for nearly two decades.

Kuhn says she was shaken up to hear about the incident and says her daughter often walks the dog around the same time in the evenings.

“I’m not going to let that happen anymore,” she said of her daughter’s evening walks. “It’s really sad that we can’t have the freedom to be able to walk out when it’s still light at 8:30 at night.”

Kathy Schneider is another longtime Verona resident as she’s lived in the area for almost 50 years. She says she plans to be more cautious when she goes out walking.

“And that’s sad. That’s sad to have to do that because Verona has always felt like a very safe community,” said Schneider.

Schneider says she’s still going to get her exercise in.

“I’m not going to discontinue my walking and biking,” said Schneider. “This is part of my life and my community. I’m not going to be compromised in what I want to do.”

Lucy Washbusch says she is out on the trail almost every day and was scared to hear something like this took place here.

“I always run alone which is even scarier,” said Washbusch. “I listen to music pretty loud too so maybe I should not do that.”

Law enforcement and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources wardens want neighbors to be prepared but not paranoid.

“Be cognizant of your surroundings, this isn’t unique to a trail system, to Dane county, to the state of Wisconsin,” said Sean Neverman, a DNR special investigative warden.

Sgt. Christensen echoes that crimes like this are extremely rare in Verona. He suggests to walk confidently and without distractions.

“Alot of times these suspects may take advantage of that opportunity, if they see somebody that may be appear to be more vulnerable than somebody else, so we encourage people to walk with their head up, a little more confidence,” said Christensen.

Police say they are working with the victim to develop a forensic sketch of the attacker. Sgt. Christensen says the victim did everything right in this situation.

“She screamed, yelled, and fought back,” he said. “The attack on her was short in duration because of her actions and her push back.”

If you have any information about this incident, you’re asked to call the Verona Police Dept.

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