UPDATED: Friday, January 3, 2013 --- 6:15 p.m.
A Madison woman is recovering after she says she was strangled by a guy she met online. The 40-year-old woman told police she invited the man to her apartment.
38-year-old Robert Palen was arrested for allegedly beating and strangling the woman, police say she was able to escape her Madison apartment and call for help.
Now, police are warning others of the dangers of meeting someone online.
Joel DeSpain with Madison Police says it's a terrible situation, but one that could have been avoided.
"You should really meet people first in a public place and stay in the public place."
He says online interactions can be dangerous no matter how well you think you know the person. Kelly Anderson with the Rape Crisis Center says predators are good at fooling people. DeSpain adds that it's not even just dating online, you can get hurt trying to sell or buy on sites like Craigslist.
"Take as many precautions as you can, don't have someone you don't know come into your home or apartment."
He says before meeting anyone in person there are some things you need to remember. First, make sure to tell someone where you're going to be, even if it's just to pick up a quick Craigslist sale, always drive yourself so you can leave if things take a turn for the worst, stay sober, and do some research online about the person before agreeing to meet them.
"There are a lot of great relationships out there that started online and there are a lot of people who are very happy with what they've purchased or sold on Craigslist."
But he says going in to the situation skeptical and letting the person prove you wrong is the safest bet.
Posted: Thursday, January 2, 2013 --- 6:21 p.m.
Madison Police arrested a Middleton man after he allegedly beat and strangled a Madison woman.
The 40-year-old woman told police she met 38-year-old Robert Palen online. The two had never met in person until he visited her apartment on Aberg Avenue.
The woman says Palen beat and strangled her inside her apartment on Monday morning.
The woman was eventually able to escape her apartment and call for help. Palen was not at the apartment when police arrived on scene, but he was later arrested at his Middleton home.