A Dunster House resident went on a stabbing spree this morning, fatally wounding her roommate, injuring a visitor and then hanging herself in her bathroom early this morning, in what police are calling a murder-suicide.
Sinedu Tadesse '96 killed her roommate Trang Phuong Ho '96, with a knife at around 8 a.m. this morning in Ho's bedroom in their H-21 double suite.
Tadesse also stabbed Thao Nguyen, a 26-year-old resident of Lowell, Mass., who was visiting Ho at the time. Nguyen survived the incident.
Ho, 20, a resident of Medford, Mass. and a native of Vietnam, was pronounced dead at Dunster House at around 8:30 a.m. She was removed from the house in a blue body bag before noon today.
Tadesse, also 20, was cut down from a noose by police after she attempted to hang herself in her bathroom.
Tadesse was taken to Cambridge Hospital, but efforts to resuscitate her failed. She was pronounced dead on arrival at the city hospital at around 11 a.m., according to the Massachusetts Chief Medical Examiner's office.
Both Ho and Nguyen suffered "multiple wounds consistent with stab wounds," Martin F. Murphy, Middlesex first assistant district attorney, said at a press conference outside Dunster House early this afternoon.
Nguyen was treated and released from Cambridge Hospital this morning.
Approached this morning in the Dunster courtyard, Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine termed the incident "devastating," but added that authorities are still searching for facts.
Murphy said it is unclear what motivated the actions of Tadesse, an international student from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
He said he did not know whether drugs or alcohol were involved in the incident, or what the students' activities were last night.
Both Ho and Tadesse were premedical students, according to Vice President for Government, Community and Public Affairs James H. Rowe III '73, who termed the killing "a tragic incident." Ho and Tadesse were both biology concentrators.
Rudenstine, Dean of Students Archie C. Epps III and Dean of Freshmen Elizabeth S. Nathans arrived at the house soon after the incident and stayed for several hours while dozens of state, Cambridge and Harvard police converged on the scene.
There were no Harvard security guards present when the stabbings took place, as all house guards generally leave houses by 7:45 a.m., said a source in the security division of the Harvard police.
Dean of the College L. Fred Jewett '57 and Dean of the Faculty Jeremy R. Knowles were on their way to the scene as this story went to press.
Early Morning Attack
Nguyen, the sole survivor of the attack, heard Tadesse's alarm clock go off at around 8 a.m., according to Murphy.
She told investigators there had been no prior altercation or dispute between the two roommates, and that the action took her "completely by surprise," Murphy said.
Ho was lying in her bed when she was assaulted, Nguyen told investigators. Nguyen was stabbed while attempting to come to Ho's aid.
Tadesse then barricaded herself in the bathroom, where she hung herself. Investigators found no self-inflicted or stab wounds on Tadesse's body, Murphy said. Murphy said investigators had made "sufficient inquiries" to both women's next of kin before releasing their names.
Several residents living in rooms surrounding the Dunster House courtyard described being awakened soon after 8 a.m. by the screams of Nguyen.
"I woke up at 8:30 to hear a girl out in Dunster courtyard shrieking, `Someone's killed my friend, someone's killed my friend.' It went on for three or four minutes," said Timothy M. Cullen '96.
"I heard her screaming, that woke me up. I thought it was somebody drunk," said Sean M. Doherty '96. "Then I heard more screams, louder, and got out of bed to see what was going on. I saw her stumbling aimlessly."
Doherty said Nguyen sat on the bench outside the Dunster G-entryway and called for help.
"She was bleeding from the hand and from her wrist," Doherty said. "We went down to the second floor, and we saw drops of blood all over the place."
A fourth-floor resident of the H-entryway, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Harvard police instructed him and other entryway residents to return to their rooms and lock thedoors.
They mentioned that they were searching for asuspect who they described as a Black woman withlong hair wearing a T-shirt, he said.
Later, Tadesse's body was removed fromH-entryway as three emergency medical workersattempted to revive her.
"There was an empty stretcher, they brought outthe stretcher and carried her away," said athird-floor resident of the H-entryway who askednot to be identified this morning. "They weretrying to resuscitate her because she had hungherself. They carried her away with a respiratorover her mouth. I don't whether she was dead ornot."
Tadesse "was on a stretcher and they weretrying to revive her as they were wheeling herout," Doherty said. "She appeared to be dead, itlooked like she was dead."
Rowe said Harvard will not release furthercomment on the incident, but added that theUniversity is establishing a hotline for concernedparents.
"I'm sure we will be spending many hourstalking about this. I'm sure we will be attendingto this," said Winthrop House Master Paul D.Hanson, Lamont professor of divinity. "[Students]all live under a lot of stress."
Hanson said house masters have contactedUniversity Health Services (UHS) Director Dr.David S. Rosenthal '59 and Dr. Randolph CatlinJr., UHS director of mental health services, toprovide mental health counseling services forstudents and parents.
The fourth-floor resident of Hentryway said hehad recently met Ho and knew who Tadesse was.
"It's incredibly shocking," he said. "It's thelast thing you'd expect from someone who seemedfriendly and not at all the person you'd imagineto be involved in a crime."
Originally, radio wires reported that up to sixpeople had been stabbed, but it appears that onlythree people were involved.
"It's a horrible thing and it really hasn't hitme yet just how bad it is," Doherty said. "Justseems like an odd thing to happen early in themorning. You'd think if there were some sort ofdispute it would happen late at night."
Residents of Dunster's G-, H- and I-entrywayswere barred for several hours from entering otherentryways, and access to the entryways was limitedto Dunster residents.
"I was told to avoid tracking through the bloodin the courtyard and was told it was the blood ofthe only survivor" by police, Dunster residentArthur N. Dobelis '96 said.
Efforts to reach Ho's family in Medford andTadesse's family in Addis Ababa were unsuccessful.
Most of the H-entryway residents interviewedthis morning said they did not know Tadesse or Ho,or knew them only by face.
But Moon Duchin '97, a J-entryway resident,said she knew both women. "Both seemed quiet andnice and I was very surprised when I found out,"she said. She said she heard about the killingbefore learning the identities of the studentsinvolved.
Todd F. Braunstein, Marios V. Broustas,Susan A. Chen, Valerie J. MacMillan and Douglas M.Pravda contributed to the reporting of thisstory.CrimsonGabriel B. EberWinthrop House Master PAUL D. HANSON speaksto an officer.