April 25, 2001

Stabbing Case Remains Open

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In the aftermath of a stabbing outside the DKE fraternity house in the early morning of April 14, the Cornell University Police Department determined that the crime warranted an alert to the campus.

Now, in response to the subsequent message issued by CUPD Capt. Randall H. Hausner ’85, some students have begun to raise questions about that response — and some of the details that were reported by the police.

Linda Grace-Kobas, director of the Cornell News Service, spoke with a CUPD officer shortly after the crime was reported. Grace-Kobas then described the details of the incident as a robbery in which the assailant demanded a sophomore Cornell student’s wallet before stabbing him.

However, in a letter to CUPD officials and University administrators, Rainer Vladimir Asse grad alleged that the incident was more complicated than what was reported. Citing an eyewitness account, Asse asserted that the assailant stabbed the student only after a dispute and was not attacked at random.

With the investigation still underway, neither CUPD or the Ithaca Police Department have released any more information about the crime. The campus advisory and other public documents have been released in accordance with the Clery Act, a federal law that requires colleges and universities across the United States to disclose information about crime on and around their campuses. IPD officials could not be reached for further comment about the questions raised regarding the case.

Still, Matt Hyland ’01, president of DKE asserted that the details originally reported were accurate and sufficient.

Grace-Kobas added that the University may issue a statement in response to the questions that have arisen following the campus alert.

“They [the police] really had very little information at the time [the alert was issued],” Grace-Kobas said.

Regardless of those limitations, University officials decided to distribute an advisory, because the suspect had not been apprehended. CUPD reported a description of the assailant as “a black male in his late teens around 5′ 10″, chubby face and build, a white pick sticking out from his short afro, and wearing a gray jacket.”

CUPD also noted the victim’s description as being a white male student.

“There was some major concern that the description (of the alleged assailant) was very stereotypical,” said Edward C. Jones grad.

Jones, a member of the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association, noted that the campus alert carried with it implications that anybody seen near Cornell who fits the police description would be branded a potential suspect.

Asse kept private the source of his information upon which he based the allegations published in the letter, but he said he got it from an IPD official.

“This is about a lot of people knowing that that crime alert did not protect them but targeted them,” Asse said.

Upon reading the campus alert, “anyone who is black who is seen being suspicious on campus is a potential suspect,” he said.

University officials have not yet responded to Asse’s letter, and Grace-Kobas questioned the origins of information upon which he based his comments.

“I have no idea where this student got his information,” she said.

Last Wednesday, Ithaca Police arrested a 17-year-old Ithaca youth Wednesday in connection with the robbing and stabbing. The suspect was charged with first degree robbery and second degree assault.

Archived article by Matthew Hirsch