Melissa Gail Aptman and her friend were abducted from a street in Dogtown, a city neighborhood known for its bars, a St. Pat's parade and- that puzzling name.
Art Hill Place is a one-way street of tidy, one-story brick homes and oak and maple trees just west of Chuy Arzola's Tex-Mex Restaurant, where the victims had gone Friday night. Chuy's is one of three popular establishments at Clayton and Tamm avenues, Dogtown's main intersection.
Precisely defining Dogtown is about as tricky as learning the origin of the name. Generally, it's the neighborhood just south of Forest Park, west of Hampton Avenue and north of Manchester Avenue.
The western boundary is harder to agree on. Dogtown isn't on the official City Hall map of more than 70' "neighborhoods," some with names that rarely get used.
The Clayton-Tamm Residents Association goes only to Louisville and Dale avenues, two blocks west of Tamm. The Dogtown Merchants Association goes all the way west to McCausland Avenue.
As for the name, one story has it that dogeating Igorot tribesmen from the 1904 World's Fair in Forest Park wandered the a: ea in search of dinner. Another says workers from the old steel and brick works kept many dogs for protection.
But there's no question about the heart of Dogtown - St. James the Greater Catholic Church at Tamm and Wade avenues. The parish is home to 700 families and 250 gradeschool students. It's headquarters to the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, who follow the shamrocks painted on Tamm.
"It's very much like a small country town," the Rev. David Rauch, parish pastor, said Monday. "We have many families here for three and four generations. We have new families who come here for that sense of neighborliness."
That coziness is suffering right now. Pat Liston, president of the Dogtown Merchants, said the group would meet. soon to discuss increasing security.
Since 1988, the Clayton-Tamm area had had only one murder. There have been two more sensational murders in the wider area. In August 1991, Nora Lee Attaway was fatally beaten in her apartment in the 6700 block of Clayton Avenue. Patrick Hunter Ford, a neighbor and a son of television anchorman Dick Ford, pleaded guilty.
In February, Olga Maxiaeva of Creve Coeur was killed when youths tossed a chunk of concrete from the Clayton overpass into the car she was driving west on Highway 40. No one has been charged in her death.
Police statistics on Clayton-Tamm from 1988 to last year show this: one rape in 1991. No more than 16 robberies in any one year, and 14 last year. Nine assaults last year, with a high of 18 in 1990. Thirty-four car thefts in 1988, 33 in 1994.
The overall taxable value of the wider area's residential property rose slightly this: year, when values citywide fell. The housing is a mix that ranges from brick bungalows to three-story homes with large yards.
Police Capt. Frank Reece said Clayton-Tamm's crime fell 25 percent from Jan. 1 to April 1 when compared with the same period last year. "The biggest problem we usually have near the bars is illegal parking," he said.
Then Friday night.
"I'm upset, but then I was upset when everyone thought this happened in Olivette,'' Rauch said. "Random, mindless acts of violence are appalling no matter where you live. Having it in your back yard makes it more appalling."
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