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Family Seeks Missing Student

Fall 2001 saw last trace of Waddell

By Rebecca D. O’brien, Contributing Writer

Earlier this week, nearly two years after Class of 2003 member Erica M. Waddell abruptly left Harvard for Tulsa, Okla., her older sister contacted several Harvard students seeking information about Waddell’s whereabouts.

Waddell last contacted her family in the fall of 2001.

The family has filed a missing person report with the Tulsa police department and has hired a private detective, according to Erica’s father, Robert Waddell.

On Monday, Jasmine M. Waddell reached out to members of the 1999 Freshman Black Table (FBT) in an e-mail asking for assistance in seeking her sister, once an FBT member, according to Julian O. Breece ’03. Breece received the e-mail and has been involved in trying to locate Waddell.

According to friends and family members, Waddell, who lived in Cabot House, left Harvard in late winter 2000 without taking her final exams.

Friends say she went to Tulsa, Okla., where her parents had recently moved from Kansas City, Mo.

She then studied math and fashion design for a semester at Oklahoma State University, keeping in touch with family and friends from Harvard before falling out of contact in Sept. 2001.

The family has been reluctant to discuss details surrounding her disappearance.

“We’re very concerned because we don’t know where she is. However, if there is something wrong, if she is hurt, or if something tragic has happened, we would like to know before the public knows,” said Robert Waddell. “There are a lot to things we don’t know.”

“She took some time off from Harvard, and then we lost track,” he said. “Our suspicion is that she is taking a year off because she wanted to do things on her own.”

Erica Waddell is known at Harvard for her imaginative costume designs, which were featured in several student theater productions and profiled in a Feb. 2000 issue of Fifteen Minutes (FM), The Crimson’s weekend magazine.

Known for her creativity and her intense work ethic, she once said she had ambitions to be known as the “Goddess of Design” and cited Mary Quant and Mondrian as her primary sources of inspiration, according to the FM article.

One of her most memorable creations during her time at Harvard was the “Police Line Coat,” which was constructed from “Do Not Cross” tape and was featured at a women’s art show in the Adams House Art Space in May of 2000.

As news of her disappearance reached Harvard only this past week, friends expressed concern for her safety.

A. Helena Jonsson ’03, who was among the last people to hear from Waddell through an e-mail received on Sept. 26, 2001, grew up with Waddell in Kansas City and sewed costumes with her at Harvard.

“Erica and I did a lot of costuming together during our freshman year. Erica has an amazing imagination when it comes to fashion design,” Jonsson said. “I knew her in a professional and personal sense.”

Because Jonsson has maintained a close relationship with the Waddells, she was not able to comment further at the request of the family. Many of Waddell’s first-year roommates from Greenough Hall also declined to comment yesterday.

Stephen H. Kargere, the Allston Burr Senior Tutor in Cabot House, also declined to comment.

“As you know student records are confidential and I am therefore unable to discuss this matter,” he wrote in an e-mail.

He added, though, that she is not enrolled in the College this semester and that he had no information about Waddell’s whereabouts.

The Crimson was unable yesterday to contact Erica’s sister Jasmine Waddell, who is studying at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar.

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