Inquiry into death threat continues

A police investigation into a series of death threats and vandalism targeting a Branford freshman continued Monday as more details emerged about the nature of those threats.

After the incidents took place last week, students speculated that the victim was targeted as a result of roles he recently won in two campus theatrical productions. A fellow Vanderbilt resident and friend of the student — who has direct knowledge of the incident and asked to remain anonymous — told the News this weekend that perpetrator left a note on the student’s bed reading, “You don’t deserve that role, you f—ing freshman.”

The source revealed further details about the incident, including that furniture in the student’s bedroom — such as his bed and an area rug — had to be removed because broken glass covered much of the room.

The student described the threats and damage as “sick” and thinks they are indicative of “signs of deep psychological disturbance” in the attacker.

In the University’s only official comment on the matter, Branford Master Steven Smith sent an e-mail last week warning Branford freshmen that a student had reported “several disturbing incidents of vandalism, anonymous messages and harassment” and urged students to take caution in watching for suspicious behavior.

Yale Police Department Chief James Perrotti confirmed Thursday that the YPD had launched an investigation into the incident. He declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation. The only sign of the incident on the YPD crime logs was a report written last week describing “criminal mischief” at Vanderbilt Hall at an unknown date and time.

The student, whose name is being withheld by the News at his request, has allegedly spent at least one recent night sleeping in his friend’s suite out of fear that he could be in danger. His mother said last week that neither she nor her son could comment on the incident as yet.

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, has been under heavy security since the vandalism. The constant police presence outside of the dormitory sparked a blaze of rumors across Old Campus last week, as University officials declined to release details of the incident and students were left speculating about why a student only in his fifth week at Yale might be receiving threats against his life.

It was not immediately clear if the author of the threatening note was a fellow aspiring thespian, and some in the theater community doubted that the person had vied for any of the roles that the student received. Some students speculated that the mention of his theatrical roles may have been a cover to throw off the authorities or to further embarrass the student.

Smith, who declined to comment Monday, cautioned students last week to take precautions in Vanderbilt and to ensure that their suites are locked when they are away and when they are asleep at night.

“I do not wish to alarm anyone, but my highest priority, as always, is the safety and security of the students in this college,” he wrote in an e-mail to Branford freshmen last Wednesday.

Also on Wednesday, Branford Dean Daniel Tauss sent an e-mail to all his students urging them to be “a force for good.” The e-mail did not explicitly address the incident, but students said it seemed to be written in response to the vandalism and harassment the freshman received.

“I urge each of you to think carefully about the impact of your actions, in terms of how a specific individual might be the victim of your behavior, more broadly how it might negatively impact our community, or even how it might tarnish your own reputation,” Tauss wrote.

Comments