did eastern michigan university try to downplay the murder of laura dickinson at the expense of students?

The “Ann Arbor News” is now confirming what’s been suspected for the past few days – that Eastern Michigan University officials sat on details concerning the December death of Laura Dickinson, a student who appears to have been raped and murdered in her dorm room. Students, reporters, and Ypsilanti residents want to know why the University community wasn’t allerted to the fact that a killer was loose on campus, but EMU president John Fallon isn’t talking. Here’s a clip:

…Washtenaw County’s medical examiner confirmed this morning that the death of an Eastern Michigan University student on campus was immediately suspicious – despite initial university assurances that foul play was not suspected.

“It was the arrangement of the body,” Dr. Bader Cassin said, noting the fact that the female student was lying on the floor, with no clothes on from the waist down. “It was all suspicious to me, as it was to the police.”

Laura Dickinson’s keys also were missing from her dormitory room at Hill Hall when her body was found Dec. 15 – a detail that also made her father wonder if she may have been killed by someone who locked the door on the way out…

So, when University administrators said that foul play was “not” suspected, they were lying. They could have said, “we don’t know what happened,” or, “we’re not commenting until the investigation is concluded,” but they chose instead to say that foul play “was not suspected.” And, that’s not all. It also looks as though there may be a question as to whether or not the accused murderer, Orange Taylor, should have been at EMU in the first place. According to the “Ann Arbor News,” he was known to be threat. Here’s a clip:

…”I understand that they kept it quiet, but they were also keeping an eye on him, and they had him as a suspect early on but didn’t want him to flee,” (the father of the victim) said. “My biggest concern is – what was he doing enrolled in school? He had a prior drug paraphernalia arrest, and he was apparently restricted from certain areas of campus already, but we’re angry and hurt that he was even allowed on campus”…

So, if I’m reading this correctly, the University knew that she was probably killed, and yet told students that it didn’t look suspicious. Furthermore, the man now being held for her rape and murder was already known by University officials to be a threat, at least on some level… This really isn’t looking good for the University. (And, unless they had him under 24-hour surveilance, it’s not looking good for the police either.)

Could someone at EMU please explain to me under which circumstances a student would be “restricted from certain areas of campus”? It seems to me that if someone had done somethng making it necessary to keep him from certain parts of campus, that he shouldn’t probably be anywhere on campus. Am I missing something?

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  1. rogerdodger
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Apparently, Orange Taylor got into some trouble for letting people in through the side door of a cafeteria, gleaned from this article.

    Taylor also lived in a dorm until last November, when he returned to his family’s home in Southfield after being kicked out of his residence hall, Roberts said. Roberts wasn’t sure what got his friend ejected – either allowing people to enter a campus food court through a side door or being charged with drug paraphernalia possession.

    I’m assuming he wasn’t allowed in EMU dining areas.

  2. rogerdodger
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Also, heated discussion of new information released in the press on EMUTalk.org.

  3. ytown
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    Orange Taylor, another misguided youth who deserves a second chance! I wonder if David Ware and Orange Taylor knew each other?

  4. Dr. Cherry
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    The difference is that one of the men committed a violent crime. The other sold a few dozen grams of cocaine to a police officer.

  5. t.d. glass
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure what to make of all of this. The University didn’t know the cause of death, so I can see how they would be reluctant to say categorically that it was murder. To claim that it was murder without having the evidence to back it up would have been irresponsible. However, there’s a lot of room between “murder” and “no sign of foul play.” The University should have aimed right between the two, saying that the circumstances were unclear, but that students should take every precaution. Instead they told students not to worry. That’s where they fucked up. At the very least, they owe the student body an apology.

    When I first heard that Taylor was “not allowed” on parts of campus, I assumed it was due to some kind of violent behavior, like a fight at the student recreation building. If it was just that he snuck people into the cafeteria, I don’t fault the University for giving him a second chance. If it turns out, however, that he’d done more than that (and I have to think that there’s a good chance that someone capable of rape and murder has acted out violently in the past), then I think the University will need to give a full accounting of their actions and explain why he wasn’t expelled. Possession of drug paraphernalia and letting someone into the cafeteria, if that’s all he was known to have done prior to this, I think most people would agree, shouldn’t get someone kicked out though.

  6. emichzoso
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    I am a student at Eastern Michigan and I’ve lived in the residence halls for the past 3 years. I recently attended an information session held by campus officials on February 25 in the Village Commons area. They explained that the campus police did have some run ins with the suspect previously, but nothing ever on a violent level. Upon being pressed, the officer indicated that the incident which caused the campus police to be aware of Mr. Taylor previous to the Dickenson incident was related to Drug Paraphenalia. She reinterated that the suspect had no violent history on campus that officials were aware of and that there was no reason he should have been removed from campus.

    As far as the idea that the University acted inapropriately I tend to disagree. I think it was foolish to state that there was no signs of foul play in the one email they did relase to campus indicating as much. However, other than that email the university made it very clear that it was an ongoing investigation and they werent sure of the cause of Ms. Dickenson’s death.

    I think we need to keep in mind what exactly we would want the university to accomplish by telling the campus that there might have been a killer and that he might still be loose and there was nothing they could do at that time. First, it would alert the perpetrator and give him the opportunity to flee or destroy evidence. Also, it is very clear based on all of the information dispersed through articles and University Communications that the officials investigating and releasing information did not know what happened – they still don’t know the cause of death. Therefore, if they were to release a statement that said they had suspicions of foul play, it would have induced a fear or possibly panic through students, perhaps with no due cause.

    I think the university has handled this ably. When the student was found, almost an immediate press release was sent out to the students and as soon as the investigation was upgraded to a murder investigation that information was disseminated as well. Most importantly, the security measures that are necesary were put into place after the incident happened. As a student that lives in a residence hall, I feel safe. I felt safe after the incident, and I feel safe now. Its unfortunate the perpetrator chose to commit such a terrible act but I dont think there was anything the administration of EMU could have done to prevent it.

  7. ebjorn
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

    I disagree. The university handled it poorly. My gut reaction to the sequence of events as I understand them (from AA News, EMUTalk, etc.) is that it appears that EMU administration hoped to sweep the “foul play” under the rug and hope it went away. It didn’t, and now they’re dealing with the fallout. Their attempts to be savvy with their media play is selfish, and it smacks of corporate dirty tricks.

    If indeed there was foul play, and this foul play was obvious from the beginning (to the medical examiner and to the police), then why not allow students, faculty, students’ parents, and the community to be aware of what’s going on. EMU administration’s decision to withhold information that could help people protect themselves is reprehensible, and I doubt that letting people know would induce panic in the streets.

    Here’s a hypothetical: What if, because EMU failed to alert students and community about the possibility of foul play, suspect Orange (and at this point that’s all he is) happened to do this same thing to another student or someone in the community? The argument can definitely be made that had the second victim been made known of what the police and the medical examiner already suspected, said victim would have been more vigilant in his/her day-to-day activities.

    Weighing the chances Orange might repeat his crime against the chances he might flee seems a no-brainer to me.

  8. ytown
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Orange Taylor is a grade-A dirtbag, who deserves the death penalty! How do you justify respecting his life when he has no disregard for life? Just be thankful it wasn’t your daughter or worse, mine!
    If EMU knew about this scum and witheld information vital to the publics safety, same on them and somebody needs to be held accountable. I live in college heights and it concerns me that this piece of crap was in my neighborhood as a prime suspect in a high-profile murder investigation while EMU kept everything hush! Even if they did not have a suspect you should tell the community that a murder-rapist is in the area!

  9. ytown
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    Dr. Cherry-
    One man committed a violent crime, the other sold a few dozen grams of cocaine who also had a police record, was known to carry a gun and ran from the police while his friend tried to kill a police officer.

    Sorry for the missssspellings earlier!:)

  10. emichzoso
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    I fail to see how a one line quip in ONE email disseminated to students that mentioned that “foul play is not suspected at this time” could incite a suspect to commit another haneous act.

    I’ve paid attention to this case since the day Ms. Dickenson’s body was discovered. I live directly across the street and watched the ambulances arrive. As a student, I recieved every email notification sent by the University and I followed up by examining the articles written about the incident. In my opinion, the AA news is exaggerating the importance of the one phrase, that foul play is not suspected. The University mentioned that there was no clear cause of death and as soon as murder was conclusively suspected, the University spread the news to students and offered information sessions.

    As a student, I felt safe and I still do. Most of my colleagues that I have spoken with feel the same. This is a tragedy but it is not the University’s fault and there was no coverup.

  11. ytown
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 5:23 pm | Permalink

    Correction: Suspect Orange Taylor is a possible grade-A dirtbag

  12. Dr. Cherry
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    yt: One man committed a violent crime, the other sold a few dozen grams of cocaine who also had a police record, was known to carry a gun and ran from the police while his friend tried to kill a police officer.

    Right, according to police, his friend tried to run over an officer (if you believe the police). Just a reminder, his “friend” is responsible for his own actions and his behavior should be judged independently.

    If I step in front of a moving car the driver is of course trying to kill me.

  13. emichzoso
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

    I move we leave the Police Shooting Discussion for relevant threads.

  14. egpenet
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    What causes rumor, innuendo, panic and disrepute to organizations and institutions (EMU) are lies and deliberate mis-statements. The best tactic from a PR as well as a security point-of-view is an immediate and clear professional reponse to the staff, students, parents and community.

    “This tragic incident is under investigation. There is a suspicion of foul play. However, all security measures required to protect the staff, students and visitors to our campus are in effect and went into immediate effect moments after the authorities were called to Hill Hall by campus security. There will be no further statements by this office until or unless authorized by the investigating authorities. EMU administration is confident that staff and students can feel secure on our campus.”

    The A2 News is so hungry for local stuff that they pump up or “headline” every nuance. I remember how the authorities and the press handled it when young women were disappearing on the back of that creepy critter’s motorbike. Experience appears to be missing from the A2 News crime reporting as well as the EMU PR staff. And that lack of professionalism is what is causing all of these “wonderings,” “musings,” “confusions,” and plain blabber.

    And now someone’s bringing up David Ware again! Sheesh, people! Get a life. Let the police do their work.

  15. mark
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    A woman I know, who was thinking about taking graduate classes at Eastern, today confided in me that she was having second thoughts because of all of this. I started telling her that Ypsi wasn’t really all that scarey of a place, and she stopped me. She said that it wasn’t the crime itself that was turning her off on the idea of going to EMU, but the way the administration handled it. I suspect she’s a rare individual, but the administration needs to realize that people in the community are talking this, and they’re not looking so good… I did see, however, in today’s “Ann Arbor News,” that president Fallon has promised an investigation. He should have done it four days ago, but I suppose it’s better late than never.

  16. mark
    Posted March 1, 2007 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

    The “Ann Arbor News”? follow-up I just mentioned in my last comment can be found here.

  17. egpenet
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    Friday’s A2 News … Agent Orange was still enrolled in classes all the while the administration was mum … and there was NO general security notice or specific alert to staff, students or parents! Worse, there were denials of foul play by the PR staff. Nothing to worry about, kids.

    Our neighborhood associations here in Ypsilanti who are members of CoPAC get WEEKLY updates with specifics from local law enforcement! Both the sheriff and the police chief repond to inquiries from residents.

    Why is theree NOTHING from EMU PR, from EMU Student Affairs, from EMU security. The info lockdown could very well … over the period of these last couple months … have cost one or more other lives. COULD HAVE … but didn’t, thank god! Furthermore, inaction is EXACTLY what allows copycats the impetus to “screw THEIR courage to the sticking point.”

    There ought’a be a law … and there IS a law … as we’ve found out from our concerned friends in Pennsylvania! I ask … what’s OUR next step, folks?

  18. emichzoso
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Whats our next step? Our next step is to stop relying on the hyped up A2 News and look at the facts. The University has done nothing wrong here. Perhaps they were unwise to initially state that there was no reason to suspect foul play but at the time they didn’t know. This “outrage” comes directly from the AAUP and others doing everything they can to shine a negative light on EMU to gain bargaining leverage. REDICULOUS! Students dont feel unsafe unless they are ignorant of the facts. The people who feel unsafe or ignored by the administration are those who did not read the updates as they came from the beginning, those who did not follow this story, and are now choosing to rely on a couple of low grade journalists looking for a story from the Ann Arbor “News” and biased blogs like EMUtalk.org. In my opinion, and in the opinion of every informed student that I’ve spoken with, the Administration did what they could, EMU is a safe place to live and attend classes, and this ‘hype’ is nothing but unfair negativity shined on our University.

  19. egpenet
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    So … to quote an old professor of mine … “Ignorance is blythe!”

  20. ytown
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Just curious emichzoso, what is your affiliation to EMU besides as a student? You are so defensive and critical of A2 News and very critical of their journalists.
    I am happy that the university has supporters like yourself, but while you are supporting EMU, you are attacking everyone else.

  21. emichzoso
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m only attacking the overzealousness of the reporters. These small time journalists have everything to gain from cracking open a “scandal.” In this case, I objectively find no scandal. Often, I will be the first to point out problems within the university however, in this case it is becoming more and more evident to me that the University is being attacked unfairly by people who have much to gain from these attacks (AAUP, A2 News Journalists). I wont say the university is perfect. They should not have said that at the time foul play was not suspected. However, I think they’ve handled this situation admirably and we need to not focus on a small mistake by university communications (yes, thats what it was, a small mistake; it didn’t put anyone’s life at risk as some would have you believe) and focus on the real tragedy: the unnecesary death of a promising student at the hands of a sociopath (not necesarily Mr. Taylor.. we’ll let a jury decide).

    As for my affiliation, I am an involved student who has attended EMU for 3 years living in the residence halls for all three. I’m a political science major with aspirations of attending law school… though I dont see how that matters ytown…

  22. egpenet
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    Zoso … when you get into law school, you’ll understand what EMU’s obligations are to its staff, students, parents and the community … under the law.

  23. emichzoso
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 7:57 pm | Permalink

    egpenet… are you an attorney?

    I think i’ve got a pretty decent understanding now and I fail to see a major violation here.

    Though your condescention is noted.

  24. mark
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 9:39 pm | Permalink

    I think I’m relatively objective about this as well, Emichsozo, and think the University mishandled it. Their statement that there was “no reason to expect foul play” was, at best, wrong, and, at worst, a deliberate lie. There was a killer on campus, and students were told not to worry about it. They are incredibly lucky, as others have said, that another student wasn’t killed. They could have said, “we don’t know what happened,” but, instead, they said, foul play wasn’t involved. That’s not a trivial difference. And they should acknowledge that they made what could have been a very costly mistake, in an attempt to brush this story under the rug before Christmas break. If I were in their position, I would have been tempted to have done the exact same thing, but I’d like to think that I would have eventually come around and put student safety above short term convenience.

    I’m curious to see what an investigation will turn up. Was EMU aware that their tapes had provided a suspect to the police? Did they know that DNA had been taken from him, to test against DNA collected at the scene? If so, when did they know it? And, if not, why not? If I were President Fallon, and I didn’t know any of this, I’d be livid. If I ran a University and I found out that the police suspected a killer was on campus and didn’t mention it to us, I’d be demanding answers. We’re not hearing that, though. Which leads me to believe the University knew that Taylor was a suspect and yet did nothing to warn students. Was he under 24-hour surveillance this entire semester? Is such a thing even possible?

    And let’s not go blaming the press. Thank god they occasionally ask difficult questions of people in power. It’s what they’re supposed to be doing every day. Maybe if they’d asked questions earlier, it wouldn’t have come to this.

  25. egpenet
    Posted March 2, 2007 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    Good night and giood luck.

  26. emichzoso
    Posted March 3, 2007 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    Students were never told not to worry about it. There was one possibly misleading piece of information initially, however, students were made aware that this was an ongoing investigation and students should be cautious. Security precautions were put in place. I was never ever told to “not worry about it.” I had a clear understanding it was an ongoing investigation and Laura’s death could be caused by any number of things.

    Furthermore, I still have a hard time feeling that that one line quip in the first release put anyone in danger. I live in the residence halls and I noticed a higher degree of caution. I exercised a higher degree of caution. I’m also a delivery driver and I work the midnight shifts from 10pm to about 4am. I deliver to the building where Laura was murdered frequently and since the incident took place, I’ve had a much harder time getting into the warm lobby to wait for students who have ordered their food. Before when students would open the door for me, I’m now largely ignored. To me, this is a good sign. I’ve been told my towers residents and by RA’s that they’ve instructed students to be extra cautious.

    To tell everyone on campus that there is a murderer loose before there is conclusive proof that foul play was involved would be foolish and irresponsible.

    I’ll agree, the statement in that initial release that “at this point there is no reason to suspect foul play” was foolish. But I disagree that it was criminal. The proper steps were put in place and students were never told that there was nothing to worry about. My criticism with the A2 news is that they arent just “asking tough questions” anymore, they are calling this a coverup (see: EMU Sat on Death Details). I absolutely agree the role of the press is to ask tough questions but this seems like a vendetta for personal gain and it saddens me. This is a tragedy and we should focus on that aspect instead of throwing stones and the Administration simply because of some bad blood.

  27. emichzoso
    Posted March 3, 2007 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    An added note:

    So lets say EMU had and released information that there is a suspected killer roaming campus… what happens differently other than suspicion and panic? A non-specific release like that would only hurt things.

    And clearly no one can argue it would be a good idea to release information saying that Mr. Taylor was a suspect. THAT would be illegal.

  28. ol' e cross
    Posted March 5, 2007 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Word around campus today is after 30 years at EMU, VP of student affairs,
    Jim Vick, is being placed on administrative leave (i.e., the land of no return).

    It looks like the Ann Arbor News has their plattered head.

  29. Kate
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 12:43 am | Permalink

    Yes, Jim Vick is officially on administrative leave. And the Security on Campus organization, which specifically monitors universities to ensure they are complying with the federal Jeanne Clery Act, is readying a complaint to the U. S. Justice Department.

    Emichzoso, if EMU administrators were, indeed, jesting (which is what you imply by using the word “quip”) about there having been no foul play in Dickinson’s death, then their witticism was lost on the vast majority of those who read the message. I would, however, catergorize that statement as a lie, not a quip at all.

    They deliberately misled the students and faculty of EMU, as well as the populace of the surrounding area. According to the Clery Act, doing so is, indeed, criminal. I am surprised that someone who plans on attending law school would not spend some time learning the law about which he opines.

    Denigrating those who do not hold your belief in EMU by name-calling does not help your argument. While I do not always agree with the ways the Ann Arbor News has gone about its reporting of this or other events, the fact remains that the university did not disseminate information in a manner conducive to ensuring the safety of students, faculty or the greater Ypsilanti community.

    On what do you base your accusation that the AAUP would be involved in any kind of conspiracy to promote a scandal? The fact that a few faculty members have spoken of their concerns with the News? If that is all you have, your argument is vacuous.

    University leadership needed to walk a fine line, giving enough information to ensure safety precautions would be taken, while holding back details that would compromise the inivestigation. Whether by incompetence or design, they failed to do that. Because of past events that also saw the university giving out misleading and incomplete information, there has been built up, over time, a distrust of EMU leadership. This current debacle is but the final straw for many of us.

  30. egpenet
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Kate … I was hoping emichsozo would have to get into law school to find out all of this legal mumbo jumbo by doing the research into the Clery Act (no pun on Cleary intended) … and in the memories of Joan Schell, Karen Sue and the others who were so brutally killed years ago in and around this city … we can now rest in peace. The AAUP and other groups with legitimate concerns for their memberships were not involved in this cover-up. “The rest of the story” will come out now.

    I’m relieved no one else was hurt in the intervening WEEKS between the act and the truth.

  31. Kate
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 9:43 am | Permalink

    Sorry, e.g.. I think he’ll still have to do some research on the Clery Act, though, so maybe all is not lost.

    It is, indeed, the main concern that so much time passed before we all knew there was a danger among us. People now don’t remember Mary Fleszar, Joan Schell, Maralynn Skelton, Dawn Basom, Alice Kalom and Karen Sue Beineman. Perhaps if emichzoso looked up those names he wouldn’t be so complacent about the recent events. Nor would he be so quick to ridicule the efforts of those who try to make sure students and others get proper warning.

  32. thayer_from_ypsi
    Posted March 6, 2007 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Two things to remember:

    (1) It APPEARS that EMU tried to significantly downplay the seriousness of the death. Appearance counts, so regardless of the EMU officials’ intent, the university appears to have intentionally omitted critical information. A black eye for public relations.

    (2) The Ann Arbor New has always appeared to have a bias against Ypsilanti and the eastern end of Washtenaw county. In the 70’s and 80’s we used to say that if an Ypsi resident was killed in Ann Arbor, the headline would read “Ypsilanti resident murdered” while an Ann Arbor resident killed in Ypsi would evoke a headline “Man killed in Ypsilanti.” Much like the old Cold War era joke about the Soviet Union and United States having a race. The U.S.A. finishes first; the U.S.S.R. second. The Pravda headline would read “Soviet Union finishes second; U.S.A. finishes next to last.”

    The lesson, read the Ann Arbor News, then use it to line the bird cage. The bias won’t change, so don’t get hung up about it.

    >>But don’t let the EMU officials off the hook: “What did they know and when did they know it?”

  33. egpenet
    Posted March 7, 2007 at 12:26 am | Permalink

    As time goes by, it “appears” that the “greats” that gave EMU its world-class geography and cartography reputation, its dynamic string of forensics championships, its stunning cast of theatrical stars, its on and on and on … nursing, education … and on …

    Gone, kaflooey, kaput, zip, zero, zilch.

    1) This “inquest” for EMU will blow over.
    2) Mr. Fallon’s challenge is to rebuild our proud EMU into the world-class institution it once was by: a)”encouraging” mediocre tenured faculty to disappear into the jungles of Costa Rica, b) same for staff, c) restocking both his staff and his faculty with “the best” he can afford, which may mean cutting programs to help sweeeeten the kitty for programs worth saving; and c) generally kicking ass on campus to help build spirit, community involvement and town/gown relations.

    As a resident and neighborhood association board member, and friend of many EMU grads, I encourage President Fallon and the regents to “go for the jugular” on every issue and give us back the EMU we “knew” and “loved.” SCREW “No Child Left Behind” … teach our teachers what they really need to know for today’s kids. Don’t be intimidated by WCC’s limited success … their students are dropping like flies because they can’t afford to work and go to school either. Get a financial aid package together that WORKS! Get creative! Don’t rely on the State or the FEds or the local banks that are pulling out of Michigan! Come’on regents DO YOUR WORK, or get off the board! This school needs HELP!

    Mr. Fallon, you have the support of your local neighbors, the City and your grads … so, take hold and SHOVE EMU into the future!

  34. Brian
    Posted March 7, 2007 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    Letter from the Prez:

    Dear Colleagues:

    As you know, the Eastern Michigan University community is mourning the loss of student Laura Dickinson. As soon as it was appropriate after Laura’s death, I personally contacted the Dickinson family and pledged the university’s full support in finding out what happened to their daughter. I remain fully committed to that purpose.

    I’d like to share a few perspectives related to Laura’s death. First, as you may know, a suspect was arrested and charges filed. There has been controversy about the release of information and changes in the amount and nature of such information.

    We also face other challenges. The prosecutor’s office is concerned with discretion and confidentiality. The prosecutor does not want us to do anything or have anything done that would impact the integrity of the case or prejudice it in any direction. Finally, there are differing perspectives both on and off campus.

    This is a complicated matter, so the need for discretion and confidentiality collides with the expectation of full disclosure. While I can’t give you specifics, I can tell you what we are doing here at EMU.

    I have ordered that we will preserve any and all communications, documents and information related to the death of Laura Dickinson and its investigation.
    I have requested that the prosecutor approve any and all information to be released in any form in this matter.
    I also have requested that the prosecutor make public his concern for confidentiality in this matter.
    I am engaging an outside legal counsel not affiliated with the university to conduct an investigation into how the university handled this entire matter with respect to university policies and procedures; state, local and federal statutes; and the bounds of reasonableness.
    We will conduct a careful review involving several people of any and all releases of information in this matter.
    I am in the process of writing a Letter to the Editor in response to The Ann Arbor News’ March 4, 2007, editorial.
    I have placed Jim Vick, vice president for Student Affairs, on paid administrative leave for the duration of the investigation by the outside counsel. I will appoint an acting vice president for student affairs on March 6.
    To that end, I ask for your full cooperation and patience during this difficult time. We all need to be focused on what is truly important and that is finding out what happened to Laura Dickinson.

    Toward a safer university community,

    John A. Fallon, III

  35. egpenet
    Posted March 7, 2007 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    When did this happen? I almost forgot. December? Yah, I think so. December 2006. Well … wait a minute … I just got a new calendar from my insurance guy … where? … oh, yah … OK … here it is … Ye, gods! It’s MARCH 2007!

  36. mark h
    Posted March 10, 2007 at 9:20 am | Permalink

    EMU students who knew the murder victim or lived in the same dormitory complex were told by EMU officials that she died of natural causes, or maybe an overdose, or maybe a suicide. These staffers no doubt were just repeating what they’d been told to tell, and it was a lie that they’d been fed.

    It was a systematic effort to repress the truth.

    The evidence for this grows more and more clear. Her teammates were told by their coach not to talk to the press. But now they have (see yesterday’s AANEWS).

    There is no public safety or law enforcement purpose that is served by denying to the public that a murder is being investigated. After all, the murderer knew a killing had happened, and it’s not likely that he’d have been a greater flight risk if the rest of the community were told the truth, instead of lied to. Many other facts of the investigation could of course be kept confidential by the authorities even if EMU officials had not tried to tell a huge lie and impose a gag order on people likely to question it.

    President Fallon is ultimately responsible for this. He should resign.

  37. mary
    Posted June 19, 2007 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    I think they kept it under wraps to avoid inflaming race tensions. It’s not PC to expose a black man as a criminal anymore. Only if he was white and played lacrosse and she was a black stripper could you blast this from the heavens….I hope this family and the community keeps the pressure on the media to cover this. Too bad the white community doesn’t have its own Al Sharpton baffoon to have a hissy fit on TV.

  38. Posted June 20, 2007 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    This case has just been featured on Headline News and Jim Vick practically got his head put on a stick and paraded around the newsroom.

    Our website features cases like this and I’m suprised I hadn’t heard of it.After reading the comments left by some of the more vocal and egregarious posters,I have to say I can’t see how in the world the university could have been what can only be called so underhanded and sneaky.They tried to cover this thing up.

    Thank God noone else was victimized by the person responsible for Laura’s death. I do not know if It is the same person being discussed…and I do believe everyone is innocent until proven guilty.But to leave so many students at risk by not taking the proper precautions is just negligent. I believe “negligent” is the word they use in a lawsuit these days…….

  39. Jillian
    Posted July 16, 2007 at 11:37 pm | Permalink

    For those who are downplaying the “no sign of foul play” detail:

    Laura was found lying on her back on the floor in her bedroom, naked from the waste down, legs spread, with a pillow covering her face and clear signs of struggle. Her door was locked and her keys were missing.

    No signs of foul play? When a girl is found dead with no panties on the first thing they consider is rape/murder. When anyone is found dead with a pillow on their head and signs of struggle, they usually investigate it as a homicide.

    The university had a moral obligation to warn students that foul play was obvious and students should be on the look-out. Even if it wasn’t a federal law–which it IS (and this is why the firings took place)–they should have told students the truth from the beginning.

  40. Nancy J
    Posted July 17, 2007 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    This girl was found spread eagle and naked from the waste down, with semon on her leg, and a pillow over her face. HELLO! There’s no ambiguity here!

    Clearly there was foul play, and the students at the university deserved to have full disclusure in order to protect themselves, to increase dorm security and awareness, and for those who wished — to withdraw (if not from the university, from the dorm/s)!

    More than anything, campus and dormitory staff needed to know the facts in order to review current dorm security, and have programs to advise students on how to protect themselves from a possible future occurance.

    Especially since the rape suspect was STILL roaming freely — regardless of being watched — as a “student” on the campus!!!!!!!!


  41. Nancy J
    Posted July 17, 2007 at 3:09 am | Permalink

    To Mary, this is NOT a race issue. It is a rape murder issue! Rapist-murderers come in all shades! If you don’t believe it so, then heaven help you.

    As a woman, and a former Resident Director at a residence hall at the UofM Ann Arbor, I didn’t give a darn what race a perp was (and in my three years on resident staff — there were several rapes — none by black men), I just wanted to KNOW about the event and what the person committing the crime looked like.

    There was a recent gun attack by a mentally ill asian student at Virginia Tech. No one in their right mind is going to vilify all asians because one individual asian happened to be violent and insane.

  42. emichguy
    Posted July 29, 2007 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    firstly, I don’t think it’s a race issue, and even so, most often, serious criminals are white men (and I say that as a white man)

    and I can tell you firsthand that even though in the public eye, the university handled it poorly, they were careful with the rest of the students right off the bat; the whole past school year, I lived in the dorm where the murder took place, and the rest of that night, probably up until even 3 am, there were groups of detectives going around in groups of about half a dozen, knocking on our doors, asking us questions, and telling us to be careful, lock our doors, etc.

  43. Meta
    Posted December 9, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Permalink

    From AnnArbor.com:

    “Four years after student’s murder, EMU signs agreement on handling of sexual assault, harassment claims”


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