Women fear walking alone in northeast Oklahoma City neighborhood after rape reports

An examination of police records turned up nine reports of rape or attempted rape over a three-month period in the northeast quadrant of the city, including three that happened while women were walking by themselves. The attacks are not related, police said.
by Juliana Keeping Modified: September 15, 2013 at 3:00 pm •  Published: September 15, 2013

The neighborhood

The 2200 block of N Everest Avenue is a quiet block dotted with small houses, including one wrapped in bars. There is a church, a vacant lot and the park where the 18-year-old woman told police she was raped July 26.

Around the corner at NE 23 and Lottie, the city is bustling. Business is excellent at Heaven on Earth Salon, which occupies a corner of a building that also houses a jewelry store and a convenience store. The convenience store was the destination of the woman who raped July 27 in a vacant lot.

Cathy Patterson, a stylist at the salon, saw the news on TV.

“It hurts to hear that anyone has had any type of thing taken away from them, especially a woman,” she said.

But it's not surprising.

“It's really nothing new, because there's so much stuff going on in this world today,” Patterson said. “I just come in here and do my job, like me and the other stylists, and we lock the door behind us. We're here to make people feel good and look good, right here on the east side, the so-called bad part of town.”

Patterson loves her job, but she locks the door during business hours to protect herself, the other employees and the customers.

“It's for our safety,” she said. “It's women in here.”

In the small jewelry store next door, the room is wrapped in metal bars, like a cage.

The convenience store in the same building also is encased with bars. And the front windows are papered with beer signs that block the view in and out.

A man who identified himself as the owner said he doesn't know about activity outside since he cannot see out the windows.

A business owner across the street said people loiter outside the convenience store, including drug dealers.

Break-ins, drug deals and prostitution are common crimes, people working and living in the area said.

But rapes are unusual and alarming, said a men's clothing store owner who has operated at NE 23 and Lottie for five years. His window was broken out in recent weeks; that kind of crime is more common. He said he does not allow loitering outside his business.

Women and children often walk alone in that area, he said.

Public safety

Oklahoma City police officer Adam Rogers reported to work Wednesday for a 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. shift at the Springlake Division, which encompasses the northeast side.

During the first three hours on patrol, Rogers responded to calls about an elderly man who had died, an assault with a deadly weapon, men harassing women from a parking lot and juveniles fighting in an apartment complex. Rogers, who patrols the area alone in his squad car, said he considered that to be a quiet evening.

Outside the squad car, residents exited a Baptist church and children played in front yards. Rogers said he enjoys his beat and interactions with many residents of the northeast side.

Despite the police presence, Patterson does not feel safe.

“I'm actually saying we need more protection than what we're getting,” the stylist said.

Despite Patterson's concern, the customers keep her coming back to the neighborhood to ply her trade.

Foxx, the woman walking with her knife to the convenience store at NE 23 and Lottie, said she lives in the area because it's affordable, but she's considering moving away because of the crime.

Prostitution is a major problem in her neighborhood, she said.

“When you walk, people assume you're prostituting,” Foxx said. “That's probably one of the problems.”

She was followed on her walks to another convenience store at NE 13 and Lottie, so she stopped going there.

Foxx walked by the park where the 18-year-old woman reported she was raped July 26. She said news regarding attacks on women scares her, but she has to get to the store. Foxx always walks with a knife.

“If I need something, I don't have a choice,” she said. “It makes you uncomfortable. I try to go during the mornings or early afternoon. This is kind of late for me, but, I need to go to the store.”


NewsOK.com has disabled the comments for this article.
by Juliana Keeping
Enterprise Reporter
Juliana Keeping is on the enterprise reporting team for The Oklahoman and NewsOK.com. Keeping joined the staff of The Oklahoman in 2012. Prior to that time, she worked in the Chicago media at the SouthtownStar, winning a Peter Lisagor Award...
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