Authorities in Shirley, Massachusetts, are warning residents to be on the alert for a suspicious man who approached a woman while she was jogging.
Police issued an alert after a man driving a large green cargo van approached the jogger around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday on Hazen Road.
The woman's husband says the family is very shaken by what happened. He doesn't know if his wife was targeted because she's a jogger, and police in Shirley say they're taking the incident very seriously.
"A car was driving towards her, and he pulled over and kind of pushed her off into poison ivy on the side of the road," said Sue Heinz, who knows the jogger.
She says what happened next was weird.
"He was just offering her water, but that's kind of odd," she said.
In a Facebook post, the jogger said,
"At this point my heart was beating pretty fast since #1 - I am completely aware that a woman was murdered in Princeton while out on a run about 10 miles from here," the jogger wrote in a Facebook post. "# 2 - in my 20 plus years of being a runner no one has ever run me off the road to stop and offer me a water."
On top of that, the jogger says there was another man sitting in the back of the van, when the passenger seat was empty.
"She sees another person, a passenger in the back. A male passenger in the back," said Heinz. "She hightailed it out of there, and was able to run and capture a few numbers on his license plate and was able to call police."
That partial license plate is a Massachusetts registration that's starts with 930. The rest is unknown.
Back in August, 27-year-old Vanessa Marcotte was killed jogging by her mom's house in Princeton. That's about 20 miles away. While authorities are not saying the cases are connected, Shirley Police Chief Thomas Goulden told the Lowell Sun the murder may have been a factor in this jogger's decision to report the incident.
Marcotte's killer hasn't been caught, and neighbors in surrounding towns have been on edge -- the jogger who was approached in Shirley says she now carries mace when she runs.
"It's very concerning, obviously," said Shirley resident Bill Wood. "We think something like this can't happen in a small town, but obviously, with the situation in Princeton, we know that it can and it did."
The Worcester County District Attorney's Office tells necn its investigators are following all leads, but that they haven't heard specifically about the Shirley incident.