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Harvard Graduate Killed by Attacker

Lea F. Sullivan ’01 died on Monday due to a head injury

By Daniel J. Hemel, Crimson Staff Writer

Lea F. Sullivan ’01, a former Cabot House computer science concentrator, passed away Monday after a medical school acquaintance attacked her with a baseball bat on a crowded Philadelphia street corner.

Philadelphia detectives allege that Nader Ali, who attended Jefferson Medical College with Sullivan, struck her on the back of the head outside a Whole Foods supermarket Sunday afternoon.

Ali reportedly drove away from the crime scene—but not before bystanders took down his license-plate number. Officer Sheila Smith of the Philadelphia Police Department said that Ali was arrested Monday morning at his parents’ home in Bergen County, N.J.

Police told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Ali and Sullivan had “very limited contact” while the two were at Jefferson Medical College.

“Ali was placed on a medical leave of absence during the last academic year because of an extreme change in behavior,” said Phyllis M. Fisher, a spokesperson for Thomas Jefferson University, which oversees Jefferson Medical College. She declined to elaborate, citing the confidentiality of Ali’s case.

Sullivan was rushed to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital after the attack. She never regained consciousness, and doctors pronounced her dead at 2:36 p.m. on Monday, Fisher said.

Sullivan, 25, was in her third year of study at Jefferson Medical College and had been involved in the school’s student council.

Fisher said that, in deference to the wishes of the victim’s family, the school has yet to issue a public announcement of Sullivan’s death.

At Harvard, Sullivan lived in Thayer Hall as a freshman and played on the varsity lacrosse team for two years.

Those who played lacrosse with Sullivan “are devastated and heartbroken,” said former teammate Megan Austin ’01.

“She was an incredible woman,” said Courtney H. Leimkuhler ’01, who described Sullivan as a “quiet force on the team.”

“She was one of the nicest people I’ve ever known—very soft-spoken, always had a smile on her face,” said former teammate Lauren E. Corkery ’01, a former Kirkland House psychology concentrator.

Before coming to Harvard, Sullivan was a three-sport athlete and homecoming queen at Radnor High School in suburban Philadelphia, Pa.

Karen C. Tseng ’01, a third-year at Harvard Law School who also attended Radnor, said that Sullivan easily gained the universal affection of her high school classmates.

“No question she is one of the kindest, most down-to-earth, sweetest people I ever met,” said Tseng, who first met Sullivan when the two were in second grade.

“She was a class act,” Tseng said.

Sullivan’s family has yet to release details of a funeral or memorial service, Tseng said.

—Staff writer Daniel J. Hemel can be reached at

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