Experts: Knowing your surroundings can mean all the difference between life and death

Posted at 8:45 PM, Sep 14, 2016

Residents in Ashland and Richland counties, where three women were found murdered in seemingly quiet neighborhoods, are still in shock.

Police think the same man is responsible for all three deaths.

The story unfolding there is similar to both the Anthony Sowell and Ariel Castro cases, and we wanted to know why.

Experts told that knowing your surroundings can mean all the difference between life and death for you or someone you know.

"I know my neighbor directly next door, really other than that I don't really know anyone," said Kristyn Krohn, while playing with her two sons on the porch.

Experts say Krohn is not alone.

"This is pervasive across our country," said Dr. Michael Vimont, a Social Work Professor at Ashland University.

A recent study from the think tank 'city lab' found one-third of Americans say they have never interacted with their neighbors and experts like Vimont say our busy lives are partly to blame.

"The neighborhood of the past was often centered around and industry... So people who lived in a neighborhood had a lot of shared things in common," he said.

But we are completely oblivious?

"Regardless of how cohesive you are with your neighbors, what you do observe are patterns of behaviors," Vimont explained.

Krohn lives just down the street from the abandoned home, where two bodies were found and she said people in her neighborhood might see something suspicious, but more than likely just keep moving.

"I think everyone kind of keeps to themselves, definitely not anyone going out of their way to say hello. I think Ashland is thought of as this quaint little family friendly town but in reality, when you get down to it you don't know who's living across from you."

Less than a mile away three women who live on another street expressed they are the complete opposite.

"It's still a close-knit neighborhood I mean you know, you know everybody on the street, even other streets," Sue Saffle, who's been living in Ashland for 38 years said.

Her neighbor, Misty Santarossa, agreed, "we can all sit out on our front yard and watch the kids play, and it's a very safe feeling."

It's that kind of common interest that social work expert Michael Vimont tells me can be a big step in the right direction.

"The people you have an enhanced communication with results in those people then you're going to be less fearful that you're invading their privacy because you've already established some type of relationship," he said.

But, he continues, there are no guarantees.

"Even when we did know our neighbors very well, that doesn't mean the crimes like these weren't committed."

He encourages people to break out of their comfort zone by just going up to their neighbors when they do catch a moment with them outside and strike up a conversation saying you know where it may lead.