By Lilli Khatibi
Entirely East Lansing staff writer
Erika Berg and Marisa Samosiuk were walking home Tuesday evening, Oct. 22, when they found a surprise on the sidewalk.
“We were in the Union studying, probably about 9 o’clock, and we couldn’t understand the material so we decided to go walk over to our friends’ house that knew it better,” said Berg.
Berg, a sophomore psychology student at Michigan State University, and Samosiuk, a junior pre-nursing student at Michigan State University, started walking up M.A.C. Avenue to their friends’ house when Berg spotted a $100 bill on the sidewalk in front of the houses next to the St. John’s Church.
“It was pitch dark where we were walking and I saw a folded up piece of paper on the ground, so I picked it up and noticed it was a dollar bill. I was like, ‘Oh cool Marisa, I found a dollar’ but when I looked closer, I realized it was a $100 bill,” said Berg.
Berg and Samosiuk stopped in front of one of the houses, 329 M.A.C. Ave., to see if it belonged to anyone around.
“We probably stopped for about 30 seconds, but then she grabbed my wrist and tugged me and said, ‘Erika this is a rape trap, let’s go’ and started walking really fast,” said Berg. “Then we both looked back right when she pulled me and saw a guy coming out of the bushes in between two houses.”
Berg said the man was wearing all black, had a hooded zip up sweatshirt, and looked young from his body type.
“He was coming out of the bushes kind of quickly and then stopped right when we looked back,” said Berg.
Samosiuk said she doesn’t know how she realized it was a trap, but she’s glad she did.
“She just picked up the $100 bill and for some reason I just thought, ‘this isn’t real.’ It was really dark and I was like ‘wait this is a total set up’,” said Samosiuk.
Samosiuk said her instincts kicked in because she recently read about an incident like this one online.
“I just thought this can’t be real, no one just drops a $100 bill. I just told her to keep walking because this had to be a distraction,” said Samosiuk. “It could totally be a coincidence, but he was in the shadows and he had his hood up. He was dressed in all black, and it was just really weird.”
Samosiuk said a few weeks before, she heard about a similar situation when she was over at a friend’s house on Orchard Street.
“Right on the corner we saw an ambulance drive by. We thought someone got drunk at a party and the ambulance was coming to get them, but I later found out that my friend who had left the house earlier saw a guy get jumped and that’s why the police had been called,” said Samosiuk.
Berg and Samosiuk decided that with the stories that had recently heard, they needed to report the incident to the police.
Police reports confirm a call at 10:56 p.m. on Oct. 22 regarding the incident.
Lt. Scott Wriggelsworth of the East Lansing Police Department said in the 19 years he has worked at the department, he has never heard a victim call in regarding a rape trap.
“Now, I’m not saying that’s something that’s never happened before. I’m just saying I’m not aware of it,” said Wriggelsworth.
Wriggelsworth said that since the victim’s never identified a suspect during the call, there is no open investigation regarding this incident.
“It was a Tuesday night, around 10:30 p.m., so there would typically be foot traffic around that area. It could have been that or it could’ve been people just trying to scare one another,” said Wriggelsworth.
Wriggelsworth said that if these types of calls were to continue to come in, the department would put special attention to the area and have heavier patrol on the street.
When asked about the Orchard Street call, Wriggelsworth said it wasn’t unlikely of an occurrence.
“You know, we just had the Michigan versus Michigan State weekend and we had several assault calls and some people that were assaulted with personal items. We respond to these calls at all times, so would there have been an ambulance report to the area? Sure. But in order to tell if there’s a connection between that one and this one regarding the rape trap, I would need to have more information,” said Wriggelsworth.
Wriggelsworth said the best way to prevent attacks is to walk in pairs.
“Another thing we’ve seen that we’re encouraging people not to do is walk down the street with their faces buried in their cell phones,” said Wriggelsworth. “Focus on getting home safely and you can worry about the rest of that stuff – texting, e-mails, Facebook – once you get home.”