In wake of slaying, officer advises Old Mill students on safety

February 05, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

When Sgt. Tom Michalowicz asked Old Mill Middle School students to raise their hands if they think they are smart, just about every arm went up.

"For the last two weeks, I've seen young people walking that path alone, early in the morning . . . and when it's dark," he said yesterday, referring to a popular shortcut where a 14-year-old girl was found slain. "That's not smart -- it couldn't be any of you."

The students didn't disagree with him, but many are still taking the path between Shetlands Lane and Rainbow View Apartments where the body of Lisa Kathleen Haenel was discovered Jan. 15.

Investigators believe she was killed on her way to school at Old Mill Senior High.

Police held assemblies at both Old Mill Middle Schools -- north and south -- this week to give about 1,800 students advice on safety.

Most of it was common-sense information that was not new, but administrators said that in the wake of the slaying and fights and assaults on and near the path, the students needed to hear the message again.

Safety pamphlets are being sent home with students this week as well.

Mary Gable, principal at Old Mill Senior High School, said she and police are trying to arrange safety programs within the next two weeks for the nearly 2,200 students there.

Police also will speak with parents at a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday in the school complex's auditorium.

Police have maintained a strong presence, sometimes with as many as five marked cars, around the school since the murder, often warning students to stay off the path.

They will be in the neighborhood for another two weeks, but, Sergeant Michalowicz said, they probably will not be able to maintain such a visible presence much longer.

At the assembly, he told students not to talk to strangers, not to walk to school or the bus alone, not to wear headphones outdoors.

Principal Richard Schreiner said children at that age think they are invincible and sometimes don't heed parental, school and police advice on approved ways to get home.

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