Students Harassed By Whispering Caller
A number of female students have received harassing phone calls in the last two weeks from an anonymous male who speaks in a whisper, the police confirm.
Peggy A. McNamara, the Harvard University Police Department (HUPD) spokesperson, said that HUPD is investigating the calls and that they have been traced to an out-of-state phone number.
"We are currently working with an out-of-state agency to pursue this criminally," she said. Citing the integrity of the ongoing investigation, McNamara refused to comment on the suspect or any patterns in the calls.
McNamara said that HUPD is working under the assumption that all of the calls were connected, however.
Female Harvard students say they've received similar calls for some time.
Numerous students have contacted The Crimson, describing the calls. Most of them asked that their names not be used. One common element among the reports is that the caller rarely becomes sexually explicit.
Although McNamara declined to say when the calls began, students reported that they had begun at least as early as last February--and some said they were called several years ago.
Ann E. Chernicoff '03 said she was called between 25 and 30 times from February to April.
She contacted HUPD, and officers helped her get the calls traced.
But after the trace was successful, Chernicoff said that HUPD investigator Sergeant Richard Mederos told her the department's hands were tied.
"The detective said, 'Oh yeah, we know him, he's been calling a bunch of Harvard students. There's nothing we can do about it because it's across state lines,'" she said.
McNamara said that it is difficult to apprehend suspects across state lines because not all states recognize out-of-state criminal processes.
"It's ultimately up to that jurisdiction to assist us," she said. "They can decide to go forward with it, or they can decide that it's unacceptable."
Students said the man typically calls early in the morning and asks questions like "What are you wearing?" and "What are you doing?"
Several students said they mistook the caller for a friend or acquaintance and continued the conversation until they realized it was no one they knew.
"I thought it was a friend of mine playing a joke," said Caroline A. Luis '04, who said she was called by the anonymous whisperer in October. "I said 'Brian?' and he was like, 'This is Brian. Do you have class today?'"
McNamara said that any student receiving a harassing call should record the date, time and duration, and then contact HUPD.
--Staff writer Parker R. Conrad can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.