Shirley, Massachusetts Jogger Approached By Man Near Vanessa Marcotte Murder

Vanessa Marcotte

Vanessa Marcotte. Instagram/Vanessa Marcotte

Police in Shirley, Massachusetts initially warned residents about a man who approached a female jogger about 21 miles from the area where Vanessa Marcotte was killed.

This had people wondering whether the incident in Shirley – a town of about 7,200 people – could be connected to Marcotte’s death. However, police later said the man was a veteran who volunteers his time and was truly just trying to offer the woman a bottle water in an “innocent act” that had nothing to do with the Marcotte murder, according to The Boston Globe. The police chief called him a “good Samaritan.”

However, the incident underscored how frightened people are in the wake of Marcotte’s murder.

According to The Boston Globe, citing the local police chief, the jogger in Shirley “called police at around 10 a.m. Tuesday after a man in a green van pulled up beside her near Hazen Road and asked if she wanted some water.” The Globe said the chief described the man as being “in his 50s or 60s, was scruffy-looking, and was wearing large sunglasses.”

You can read the full Shirley police crime alert on the man here.

The initial release said, “The Shirley Police Department is currently investigating a complaint received on August 30th from a resident of Brown Road who was approached by a male driving a Large Green Van with partial MA registration 930 in the area of Hazen Road while out for a run. I want to reassure the residents of Shirley that the Police Department takes these calls seriously and would appreciate the public’s help in reporting suspicious activity such as persons or vehicles that don’t belong in the area.”

The Squannacook River Runners page then posted this account to its Facebook wall on August 30. “A friend from Shirley shared this today. Everyone be careful!”

This message is going out to all my local runner friends: Today I went out for a run around 930 AM. It was the first day of school for my boys, and I was feeling pretty fired up with freedom and energy. I was about 5 minutes into my run (on Hazen Rd. heading down the hill past Hampson Farm in Shirley. This is literally just past my house). A cargo passenger Van was headed directly toward me as I was running… so much that I had to jump into the poison Ivy ditch. The driver slowed and then stopped with his passenger side window down. At this point I was kind of sandwiched between the wooded ditch and the vehicle. He asked me ‘Do you want some water?’ I didn’t really hear what he said, and part of me was like Does this guy need directions somewhere or something….I said ‘What?’ He said ‘I have a bunch of water here in the van, do you need one?’ I could see the knee and elbow of another person sitting in row 2. He was behind the passengers seat. 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 #2 – In my 20 plus years of being runner no one has ever run me off the road to stop and offer me a water. Actually no one has ever stopped to offer me anything. #3 – I think I can see someone hiding in row 2. Who the hell drives round with a person in row 2 rather than the front seat? #4 Don’t we all learn in pre-school you don’t accept food or drink from a stranger? It could be poison. I would never. At this point the driver was trying to continue to talk to me, but I just felt complete fear and panic and I started running. Like Usain Bolt running. Full throttle down the rest of the hill. I realized after like 10 seconds to turn and get the license plate # which I was able to see the first few digits of. He was pulling away at this point. I called the police and spoke to both the State and Shirley Police. So, I am sending this out to all my active athletic FB friends to say WTF….I can not believe some creeper tried to lure me into his van today while I was out in our area for a run. There is no doubt in my mind he did not want to offer me a water. In fact he could not have reached across to hand me the water. It was a wide van. If I accepted I would have had to approach the window and reach in. Yikes. Please -Run with pepper spray. You no longer need a LTC in Massachusetts to buy pepper spray. They sell it by the check out register at Dicks Sporting Goods. Run with other runners. Don’t stop for anyone who tries to ask you a question. Keep one earbud out so you can hear around you. The Van was one of those Cargo type vans – no side windows. It was a grayish green color and I am guessing about 10 + years old. The driver was surprisingly old. He was about 55-60 years wearing large glasses, a black baseball hat, that I think had some sort of patriotic symbol like a VFW star or flag. He was scruffy, and I am guessing medium height slightly overweight. I feel like he was the old man decoy for the guy in the back. The police asked me a ton of questions and are taking it seriously. I am still weak in the knees. I get goose bumps thinking about the 20 seconds that this went down. Be safe All. If you need a running partner – I could be your girl. Text me, even if we have not seen each other in ages. We need to stick together. Please feel free to pass this on to any other runner or exerciser friends in the area who should know to be careful.”

Another female jogger wrote on the same page about a different vehicle: “I noticed a black pick up truck pull over in front of me oddly on the left side of the road facing the same direction as me ( I was jogging )near the train tracks in Ayer ( near McDonald’s ) and I crossed over to the other side and sped up — I’ve noticed some odd behavior by trucks/ vans , be careful ladies.” Yet another female jogger had noticed the same thing, writing, “Funny, odd seemingly senseless turn-around behavior with a black double cab late model Chevy pickup yesterday around 5 too, Nod Road near the state park entry (I was on my mt bike with mace!). Maybe just hyper vigilant to odd behavior…”

Marcotte, a Google employee from New York, was murdered and lit on fire while jogging near her mother’s residence in Princeton, Massachusetts. The case remains unsolved.

Vanessa Marcotte, Vanessa Marcotte death, Vanessa marcotte jogger, murdered joggers

Vanessa Marcotte. Instagram

Shirley police are not saying the incident is connected to Marcotte’s death, and they aren’t even sure the strange man had nefarious intent. However, they are warning residents all the same.

The Shirley incident comes as police in New York released a sketch of a man they want to talk to in the murder of Queens jogger Karina Vetrano. Authorities have said they have no evidence the cases are connected.



Margaret Ann Laurita

I posted this article on my Facebook and Twitter page. I’m also a runner. She gave excellent advice. I pray they catch all of these murderers. In regards to Karina Vetrano’s murder I hope police & FBI investigate any ties her father had with the mob/ loan sharks. People in Howard Beach need to come completely clean about the murderer who lives among them. The gofundme was started by Vetrano’s parents to pay off their debts. Remember the sins of the father. Be honest don’t let the mob keep the law-abiding citizens quiet.


Good stuff as always Jessica. Clearly sounds suspious and people are so dump again can’t people jog in public areas. Please women don’t run in a park run on sidewalks with houses all over. I still see this where I live women jogging in parks without a care in the world do they think oh that’ll never happen to me. But Jessica I love your story’s there really good and in depth reporting!

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