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Many greenway visitors not scared away by fatal stabbing

Despite Sunday's fatal stabbing, people are still out enjoying the warm weather on Knoxville's greenways, and police say that's a good thing.
Sunday's fatal greenway stabbing is not keeping people from enjoying Knoxville's trails.

(WBIR) - Despite Sunday's fatal stabbing, people are still out enjoying the warm weather on Knoxville's greenways, and police say that's a good thing.

Around 7:30 p.m. Sunday, 42-year-old Stefany Fairbanks of Knoxville was found with stab wounds, along the Third Creek Greenway. Police have arrested 24-year-old Knoxvillian Timothy Dwayne Ison, who is charged with her murder.

The horrific incident, however, is not keeping people away from the trails.

The Knoxville Police Department has increased its presence along city greenways, leading to a greater sense of security among people using the trails.

Police on the scene at the Third Creek Greenway Tuesday evening, right near where the stabbing happened, said they've seen the trail busy all day.

Michelle Long was out walking her foster dog Charlie on Tuesday evening, with a purpose and a message.

"It just seemed like a good time to be here, walking around and making our presence known so that there's more people, so we don't leave it for the bad guys, who have bad intentions or want to hurt people," Long said. "The more of us there are out here, the safer that we are."

An increased police presence and leftover bits of crime scene tape are among the small reminders of the horrific crime.

Court documents list five witnesses who either saw Fairbanks immediately after the attack or encountered Ison on the trail. WBIR spoke with two witnesses: Domingo Felipe and his 15-year-old daughter, who saw Ison walking along the Greenway Sunday evening, soon after the time of the stabbing. They say they were able to identify him to police.

Felipe and his daughter live near the Third Creek Greenway and say what happened on Sunday evening will prompt them to always use a buddy system when it comes to walking the trails.

Steven Hardin also lives near the Third Creek Greenway and said the stabbing is unsettling.

"That person could've been, like, in my area and done that, and what if it would've been me or somebody I love?" he said.

That thought, however, didn't keep Hardin from walking the greenway Tuesday evening, though with a group of friends.

"I'm a big huge fan of walking by myself and hiking by myself," Long said. "I do it a lot, but, you know, for safety's sake, I have a whistle that I usually have on me."

MORE: Ison faces May 14 hearing; victim's friend says 'she never had an enem...

She said walking the Third Creek Greenway, specifically, is also a way of paying respect to Fairbanks.

"I walk a lot, so that could've been me, you know, as well as anybody else that's out here, so it was just kind of a way to say, 'Hey, they don't win....We get to win,'" Long said. "I think that honors those who spend time out here."

"Can't let the bad guys outnumber all the good guys on the trails," she added.

Police have not yet said anything about a motive. At this point, the attack appears to have been random.

However, WBIR has learned of Ison's criminal history.

In 2005, Ison, then 14, was convicted of attempted second degree murder. He ended up at Mountain View Youth Development Center in Dandridge and stayed there until he was 19.

Shortly thereafter, he assaulted a man in Bell County, Kentucky. That was 2009.

He was released from prison in 2011 but wound up back behind bars in 2013 for two months, when he violated his parole.

Now, two years later, he has been charged with first-degree murder and is set for a May 14 court hearing.