By John Springer
AMHERST, N.Y. University at Buffalo sophomore Linda Yalem descended the stairs of her dormitory at a quarter past noon on Sept. 29, 1990. It was a sunny day, 60 degrees.
Wearing black Spandex running pants and a white Nike T-shirt, the 22-year-old popped a Tears for Fears cassette into her Walkman and started down the bicycle path that winds its way through UB's north campus and the upper-middle-class town of Amherst.
The scenic, 5.5-mile track was one of Yalem's regular runs. She needed to log quite a few miles if she was to meet her personal goal and cross the finish line of the upcoming New York City Marathon, her first, in five and a half hours.
"She was so excited about it. It was all she talked about," said Ann Brown, Yalem's older sister by two years. "She really had the running bug."
Yalem, a petite, brown-haired southern Californian had promised her sister that she would never run at night. She knew the dangers.
In 1989, around the time that Yalem first began running regularly, a 28-year-old investment banker was savagely raped and beaten in New York City. Yalem, a communications major who wrote about running for UB's student paper, knew about the "Central Park Jogger" case from media accounts and vowed nothing like that would happen to her.
With the big race just more than a month away, Yalem planned to put 15 miles on her white New Balance running shoes before meeting friends later for a screening of the Bette Midler tear-jerker "Beaches."