Seven Years After Greenbelt Murder, Tensions Easing On Popular Pathway

Seven Years After Greenbelt Murder, Tensions Easing On Popular Pathway
Prosecutors are expected to rest their case next week in the murder trial of Erick Virgil Hall.

Hall faces the death penalty in the case of Cheryl Ann Hanlon, who was found raped and murdered in the foothills north of downtown Boise in March of 2003.

Hall is already on death row after he was convicted in 2004 for the Greenbelt murder of visiting flight attendant Lynn Henneman

Henneman's rape and murder on the Greenbelt in broad daylight shocked the community back in September of 2000 and the case went unsolved for several years.

The crime was seen by many as the end of Boise's small town innocence and it changed the way people view the Greenbelt and their personal safety.

In 2002, when the case was still unsolved, Boise Police Detective Dave Smith, who had been working passionately to solve Henneman's slaying, said it was easy to understand why the crime so stunned the community.

"That doesn't happen every day here," Smith told CBS 2 Eyewitness News in 2002. "It's a nasty case. We all know she was found in the river, strangled and raped."

The crime changed the way many viewed the Greenbelt and their personal safety.

Police and volunteer patrols were beefed up and more lights added to dark stretches.

Now, seven years later, the tense uneasiness of early in the decade seems a distant memory.

"I don't think people would feel safe coming over here at ten o'clock at night," said Greebelt Patrol volunteer Bob LaMontagne. "But during the day, most of the joggers and people I see are just going about their business having a good time."

Young women we talked to say they don't feel nervous on the Greenbelt.

"No, not at all," said BSU student Abby Batten, who uses the Greenbelt regularly. "I would at night though. I'm not completely stupid. But just walking around near campus, it's a completely safe place to be."

Police say although violent crime is down on the Greenbelt, people should never take safety for granted.

"You just have to exercise good caution on the Greenbelt," said Sgt. Phil Bevier. "I means it's wonderful, this is a jewel of the city, but people need to be aware of their surroundings."

Police say use common sense: stay alert, take off headphones, walk confidently, keep a cell phone handy -- all lessons painfully learned from that sad summer of 2000.