Leigh Foxx is prepared as she walks through her neighborhood.
She has a cool cloth around her neck to combat the heat and a knife in her pocket.
She has carried the knife on her walks to the convenience store since police released a sketch and information after a woman walking alone reported she was raped July 27.
“It makes me feel better to have it in my possession,” said Foxx, who doesn't own a car.
“I usually walk in the morning. This is late for me,” she said, pausing to talk Tuesday during a 4 p.m. errand.
Foxx was unaware another rape was reported the same week in the same area. About a month later, a third woman told police a man tried to rape her while she was walking in the 900 block of Martin Luther King Avenue, within 2 miles of the other two locations.
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 the three reported attacks that happened while women were walking by themselves.
Oklahoma City police say that while this type of attack is unusual, investigators don't think any of the reported attacks are related.
A father reported his 18-year-old daughter was raped about midnight in the 2200 block of N Everest Avenue. The father said he looked outside and saw his daughter heading back to their home on Lottie Avenue. “He could tell that something was wrong with her,” the police report states. The woman told police she met a man at a store where he usually hangs out and the two went to the park and began to smoke marijuana. The woman told police the man had sex with her in the park despite her protests. The man took her shorts and cellphone, according to the incident report. The woman told police she had known her attacker for a few weeks.
Police Sgt. Jennifer Wardlow said the male suspect in the case spoke to police and said the sex was consensual. Investigators tried to contact the woman again, but she did not return calls. The district attorney's office declined to press charges.
Police have no suspect in the rape that occurred July 27. It happened early in the morning when a 23-year-old woman was walking to a convenience store at the corner of NE 23 and Lottie Avenue. She told police a man approached her, asked what she was doing and offered to sell her marijuana. She followed him to NE 24 and Jordan Avenue, where the man pulled her toward a vacant lot and tried to pull her clothes off, she told police. She pulled a knife out of her bra and begged her attacker, “Please don't do this,” the police report states. The woman told police he raped her, while holding a flathead screwdriver to her neck, before taking her wallet with $43 in it. He also took her knife — a silver knife with a case shaped like a feather and an Indian warrior head on the hinge.
On Aug. 1, police released a community alert and composite sketch of the rapist, described as a black male, about 40 years old, with a medium build and a slight limp.
A 40-year-old woman was walking in the 900 block of Martin Luther King Avenue when a man tried to rape her. Crying to an investigator over the phone, the woman said she was walking west on NE 10 near Carverdale Drive when she was approached by a man who kept asking her where she was going. She ignored him and kept walking. She said the man grabbed her from behind and told her, “I want to take you to the field.” She told police the man forced her to the ground and got on all fours directly over her. She kicked him in the genitals and he fled.
The woman described the man as a black man wearing all black with a do-rag over his face. An officer noted the woman “was extremely intoxicated” at the time of the call. She was not able to give detailed information.
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.
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.”