Authorities offer safety tips after violent attacks on women

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Within a week, the IndependenceCounty Sheriff's Department investigated two violent attacks against women.

The frequency of these incidents has surprised even veteranofficers, and now they hope what's happened will remind people to stay safe.

Investigators say the two crimes may be random andunrelated, but add that the incidents show violence can happen to anyone at anytime. That's why officers and others say it's important for people to beprepared.

"The world we live in today, I think everybody needs to haveit at least in the back of their head," Lt. Mike Mundy with the IndependenceCounty Sheriff's Department said, "what can I do to make myself safer?"

More people should ask themselves that question, Lt. Mundysaid, given the two violent incidents that deputies have investigated withindays of each other in Batesville.

"Both of our victims fared very well," he said. "Our firstvictim is one of the most courageous women I think I've ever met in my life."

Last week, sheriff's deputies arrested Jeremiah Childers,who allegedly forced his way into that woman's home and then kidnapped her.

Lt. Mundy said officers are still trying to develop asuspect in the second case, which involved an unknown man hitting a woman witha gun in her driveway and taking her purse.

Patty Duncan, the executive director of Family Violence Preventionin Batesville, says these incidents – though random – should remind people evenoutside her town that preparedness is key.

"My concern," Duncan said, "is that people are not preparingthemselves for the what-ifs.

"Violence," she added, "it does not discriminate againstage, race, social status, financial income – it doesn't matter."

In addition to always staying aware of their surroundings, shesays there are a few things that people should do to better protect themselves.

For instance when someone is outdoors, she advises them tonever go places alone. Instead, she says, travel with friends and family andpark in well-lit areas or under a streetlight.

"If you're going to the grocery store or if you're going tothe gas station, park under a streetlight," she said. "That way, it's going togive you a visual on those that are around your vehicle and will also hopefullybe a deterrent for those that may want to come and attack you."

She suggests people should also keep their car keys in theirhand so that they can quickly set off the panic alarm if needed.

"Those [car alarms] accidentally go off all the time,"Duncan said, "but if somebody comes around your car that's not supposed to bethere, that may be a deterrent to make them leave that area."

Lt. Mundy recommends that safety tip, too, adding: "Whenpeople are fixing to do harm or they know they're fixing to break the law, theydon't want attention. They don't want any lights, so anything like that has atendency [to scare them away]."

Duncan also stresses that it's helpful to share a code wordwith neighbors, friends and family in case of an emergency. This is one trick,she says, that she encourages all the domestic abuse victims that she workswith to do as well.

If someone wants to set up a code-word system, Duncan saiduse "something that you can say just in casual conversation or you can send ina text message to your friend or your neighbor that lets them know you needhelp, to call 911 or to come where you are…That can be huge in letting someoneknow that you need help."

For Duncan she claims sharing any of these tips no matterthey are is crucial.

"I think if one person will get the information and you'llshare it with one person," she said, "it goes a long way."

Police also urge anyone that feels threatened or seessomething suspicious in their neighborhood to call and report what's happeningimmediately.

Duncan says people can also call the Family ViolencePrevention's 24-hour hotline for additional assistance. That number is870-793-4011.

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