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She was sitting in her car talking to her mom on her cellphone and then….

Do you think you are safe when sitting in your car talking or texting?

It was just about 6 years ago, that Megan Boken, was killed by shots to the neck and chest in what appears to have been a botched robbery.

Boken, a graduate of St. Francis High School in Wheaton and St. Louis University, was visiting the city where she was attending a college alumni volleyball match and to look for a job, friends and family have said.

The Chicago Tribune reported that the men, both 18, have been charged with the slaying of the 23-year-old from Wheaton, who was shot in the neck and chest after the attempted robber could not get her phone, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce said while announcing charges against Keith Esters and Johnathan Perkins.

The murder took place in the Central West End neighborhood of St. Louis in broad daylight. The area is described as a trendy area full of restaurants and bars. It also appears to be where criminals go to rob people.

Megan was walking to her car while talking to her mother on her cell phone when Esters and Perkins spotted her. They saw her talking on her cell phone and selected her as a target.

What lessons in personal safety can we learn from this tragedy?

1. There is no safe neighborhood.  While some areas might be safer than others even busy “trendy neighborhoods” attract criminals.

2. When walking alone try to stay off your cell phone.  Focusing on a phone call or a text will distract you from being aware of who and what is nearby, and make you a target for robbery.

3. Sitting in a parked car having a phone conversation leaves you vulnerable to attack.  Sitting in a car limits your ability to see someone approaching.  You are distracted by the conversation and being in the car limits your ability to avoid or escape your assailant.   

4. Lock your doors immediately after entering the vehicle.  According to reports the suspect opened the drivers side door where he attempted to grab her phone and possibly her purse. 

5. Don’t fight over your valuables.  Give the robbers what they ask for and leave the scene.  

Put yourself in her position.  You are sitting in your car focused on a conversation with your mom when the car door is pulled open and a hand reaches in to grab your phone.  What would you do?  Since you are caught by surprise your first reaction might be to freeze, causing you to clamp down hard on whatever you may have in your hand.  Megan’s resistance may not have been intentional, but simply a surprised reaction.

You need to think about these types of scenarios happening to you and consider what actions you might be able and willing to take.  Avoiding the thought of it happening to you won’t make you safer.  It may cost you your life.  Be aware and be prepared.

If you are interested in a Personal Safety/Self-Defense Class for you, your child’s high school, college, business, or organization contact me at

Thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students have learned how to improve their personal and situational awareness and to physically defend themselves using a wide variety of Martial Arts techniques.

Self-Defense Classes for Adult Men, Women and teens age 14 and older are taught Tuesday, and Thursday evenings 7:30pm – 8:30 pm. More information can be found at: Fonseca Martial Arts in Evanston

Ed Kress
For over 40 years Ed Kress has been an instructor and student at the Degerberg Academy of Martial Arts, named "Best Overall Martial Arts School” worldwide by Black Belt Magazine. Master Fred Degerberg awarded Ed his 7th degree Black Belt in 2015. Growing up on Chicago’s Southside, Ed learned early in life to pay attention to his surroundings in order to avoid potentially dangerous people and situations. With the help of local law enforcement officers and directors of campus security, Ed developed a program focused on personal safety on the streets, and as it relates to the high school and college experience. Ed has trained thousands of adult men and women as well as high school and college students to improve their personal and situational awareness and, when necessary, how to physically defend themselves using their brains and a wide variety of martial arts techniques.

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