Minneapolis police put out a plea to the public Wednesday for help in a 23-year-old cold case.
Police said that 17-year-old Victoria Jane Owczynsky disappeared on Aug. 26, 1990 and has never been seen since. Foul play is suspected.
She was last seen at her house in 1800 block of University Avenue NE after planning to meet a friend at a park. But she never showed up.
“We are always reviewing cold cases as our goal is to bring closure to every victim and their family,” Sgt. Gerhard Wehr of the Homicide Unit said in a statement. “With the continuing advances in forensic technology, any new information that we receive could help solve cold cases.”
Anyone with any information about this case is asked to call Sgt. Wehr at 612-673-3406.
Peace activist K. G. Wilson has been a faithful presence at many crime scenes on the North Side over the years, pleading for the shooting to stop.
This month, someone shot his own son.
Jimmy Allen, 19, was shot at the corner of West Broadway and Fremont Avenues North three weeks ago. Police officers found him lying on the ground at 10:20 p.m. on August 1 with two males in their early 20s standing near him. They identified three suspects – one female and two males, between 18 and 20 years old – but no one has been arrested in connection with the case.
An ambulance took Allen to North Memorial Medical Center. His injuries were not life-threatening, and he was released with a bullet still in his neck, according to Wilson.
“Some kids just came up and started shooting,” said Wilson.
He said his son did not wish to speak with the media. He and the suspects are black.
Wilson slammed the incident as “black on black hatred” and said he would be addressing the matter at 4:30 p.m. Sunday at Golden Thyme Coffee & Café in St. Paul.
Wilson said another son was robbed and shot in Chicago years ago, but this was the first time one of his children was shot in Minneapolis. His nephew was also shot at the downtown Pizza Luce in June. A distant cousin of Wilson’s, Cordell Dalton, was shot to death last October on the North Side after winning several thousand dollars in a dice game.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a pastor, minister, activist, whatever, your children who live in the community are an endangered species,” said Wilson, a former gangbanger who has made ending gun violence his life's work.
He posted today on Facebook that he prays his son returns to the God that saved his life that night – and that the deadly streets of Minneapolis have no love for anyone.
Saying that most Minneapolis police officers conduct themselves appropriately when dealing with the public, Chief Janeé Harteau on Monday said she plans to examine the department's training and hiring practices after two incidents in which white officers allegedly used racial slurs and got into fights with black men while off duty.
In both cases, the officers were out late at bars when the fights happened, and in both cases the officers disrespected the local police officers who showed up to investigate. Five officers from the two incidents, one in Green Bay, Wis., and the other in Apple Valley, are under internal affairs review.
Harteau said she plans to convene her 'Chief's Citizen's Advisory Council' on Wednesday, with invitations to city faith and cultural leaders, as well as the police union, to talk about the issue. Many of the department's rank and file have been upset by the stories, she said.
"They are tired of the negative actions of a few that overshadow the great work they do every day," said Harteau. "Enough is enough."
Harteau said she wants to create a "culture of accountability" at the police department and that she's requiring all officers to say something if they see another officer acting inappropriately. "If you continue to be silent, you're part of the problem," she said Monday.
Steve Hankey drew lots of curious fellow bikers last year on Minneapolis streets as he hauled a covered bike trailer sprouting a pipe that extended up to his helmet level. Many assumed that he was photo mapping for Google.
Instead, the University of Minnesota graduate student was mapping one aspect of the city’s pollution—concentrations of particulates—with an eye toward improving the health of bike commuters and pedestrians, and potentially influencing public policy.
Although the health impacts of bike commuting are well documented, the downside can be increased exposure to a brew of pollutants, especially those from auto, truck and bus exhausts.
Hankey’s work could influence which routes bikers and walkers choose. Preliminary results found concentrations of particulates were about half again higher on the city’s arterial and collector streets than they were on off-street paths such as the Midtown Greenway. Moreover, those concentrations were almost twice as high in the morning rush hour as its evening twin.
Ultimately, he’ll use sophisticated statistical analysis and land use modeling to produce a block- by-block map that estimates particulate exposure across the city. He’s hoping to integrate that with online bike route finders, such as Cyclopath at the university, so that commuters have a choice of mapping the shortest route, the fastest or the healthiest.
The work could also be integrated into bike route planning, although representatives of two prominent organizations that site bike facilities say they first want to review Hankey’s work when it’s completed.
But it’s already influencing Hankey, who used to like to speed by snarled traffic on his bike, to pick less-traveled routes. His normal 100 weekly miles on a bike helped prep him for the demands of his fieldwork.
That involved repeatedly cycling three different routes that averaged close to 20 miles each, all while hauling more than 65 pounds of monitoring gear in the bike trailer. He sampled four types of particulate air pollution, including the finest particles that are associated with increased heart risk when inhaled. He accumulated more than 800 miles during his sampling runs.
The lesson of his studies isn’t that cycling is harmful. One Belgian study found the health benefits of cycling to average nine times the potential risk from higher inhalation of pollutants or accidents, when measured in years.
Rather, Hankey’s findings suggest that a biker could greatly reduce exposure by shifting over a block or two. Shifting just 100 meters (about one block) off a major road cut morning particulate exposure by about one quarter. That was the sharpest drop, although moving over another block would trim the risk by a cumulative one-third.
Hankey’s research for his civil engineering doctoral dissertation is already drawing attention. He’s won prizes for presentations at academic conferences in France and Switzerland. It grows out of dual masters he earned in engineering and urban planning.
But his real impact would be if he influences planners to shift the planning of bike route and facilities. For example, two of the higher traveled bikes lanes in south Minneapolis on Portland and Park avenues also are heavily traveled by motor vehicles.
Simon Blenski, a bike planner for the city, said the findings support the city’s efforts to add bike boulevards, which are bike-friendly streets, a block or two off main thoroughfares. But he’d like to see the final research. Ditto for Bill Dossett, executive director of the Nice Ride bike-sharing operation that sites stations for its ubiquitous lime-colored bikes. He considers it a sign that bikes are becoming mainstream as a commuting tool that work like Hankey’s is being conducted. But he considers vehicle pollution a moving target.
“We are doing things to reduce this exposure. Cars are a lot cleaner than they were when you and I started riding bikes,” Dossett said.
Photos: Above: Steve Hankey samples on the 5th St. NE bike boulvard at Broadway St., photo by Simon Blenski; Right: Hankey's bike and trailer with air intake pipe and sampling equipment.:
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