Madison County teen sends warning after scary park encounter

MADISON COUNTY, Ind. -- A Madison County teen is urging others to be extra cautious after a trip to a park in Lapel took an unsettling turn.

Bryiah Bell, 15, said a man made inappropriate comments to her, and investigators said her case is not the only one. Police said the elderly homeless man was not arrested because he didn't commit a criminal act.

"It was really scary," Bell said.

Bell said it started when the man sat down next to her at the park.

"He charged his phone and then he had asked me, he said, "Aren't you hot in that? You should unzip your jacket,' and he said it several, several times," Bell said.

The teen said after telling him no, the man then told her she was welcome to get in his van. He then made another comment.

"He said he has always been interested in heavy set women with big nice breasts," Bell said.

A day later, the Madison County sheriff said employees at a gas station of SR 13 and I69 called 911 after the man entered the store.

"Apparently was in the store there and said some very inappropriate things that were sexual in nature to the female employees who worked there," Sheriff Scott Mellinger said.

In both cases, investigators said there was not enough to arrest the man, but Mellinger said they did order him to stay away from both properties. In the meantime, he's reminding parents of a few safety tips.

"It's always best to err on the side of caution," he said.

Mellinger said you should keep an eye on small children at all times and make sure teens are in groups, and not alone. If you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation, get help as soon as possible.

"Get help as quick as you can, it might not be the phone call might not be the quickest thing to do there might be people around you can yell to," Mellinger said. "And we say yell your lungs off."

Bell is taking the message to heart.

"I want people to know that not everybody is safe even in small quiet towns," she said.

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