An assault and attempted abduction earlier this week in Burlington still has many residents on edge. The incident brings back horrible memories for one family who's daughter was raped and murdered four years ago.
Well over a hundred people gathered in Oakledge Park Saturday to remember the victim of one of the attacks four and a half years ago. Laura Winterbottom was 31 when she was abducted, raped and murdered, cutting short a life that had been full of compassion. "She volunteered in a lot of organizations, she loved kids, she loved older people," said Laura's father, Ned Winterbottom.
Even though her killer was caught and convicted, her many friends -- as well as others who never knew her -- were determined to turn the tragedy into something positive. This was the third annual Laura's Walk. They took the waterfront bike path, with beautiful vistas and which was one of Laura's favorite places.
The annual event is a fundraiser for programs aimed at ending violence against women, which remains a serious threat. Just this past week, a woman was accosted after dark on Colchester Avenue. She escaped and the assailant got away in a pickup truck. Police are still looking for leads.
Laura's sister, Leigh Winterbottom, said, "This is something you have to be ever vigilant. You can't let your guard down, you can't forget that there's violence against women because it's constantly happening in our community, whether we hear about it in the news or not."
Laura's Walk is not just about her, or violence against women in Burlington in general. If there's one message to take home, it's that the issue is much larger. "People have to be able to go to work, they have to be safe, they have to know that they can go the school without being subject to violence. And that's a problem not just in Burlington, not just in America, but all over the world," Ned Winterbottom said.
Those who take part in Laura's Walk know that the problem won't go away by itself. That's why one new program gets young men involved, including members of the University of Vermont hockey team and other athletics. Here, they're dong something about it.