Student Assaulted In Noah, Suspect In Custodyby Bill Lascher (11/12/99)
Students and other members of the Oberlin community were shocked by a violent incident Monday night in which a 20-year-old female student was attacked and stabbed in an apparent robbery attempt. The student, who has asked to remain anonymous, was attacked in her boyfriend's room in Noah Hall at approximately 7:20 p.m, and a suspect, Taylor Wynn, is now in custody after turning himself into police this morning.
As explained in a press release from the Oberlin Police Department, the student sustained injuries to her neck, head and shoulder. Although it was not in the official police report, several witnesses of the incident said that she was stabbed. Her injuries turned out not to be life threatening, and she was released from the hospital late Tuesday afternoon. After being notified of the attack, the victim's father arrived on campus to be with his daughter, who is expected to make a full recovery.
At the time of the incident, a student, who wishes to remain anonymous, was studying in his room when he heard two voices in the room next door. "One was [the victim's]," he said, "and the other was a male voice that I didn't recognize. It sounded like the man asked to use the phone." After the door to the adjacent room closed, he heard what he described as a bang similar to the sound of a recycling bucket hitting the ground, followed by a short yell from the victim. He continued to hear voices without an inclination that something was wrong, until he became worried by the sound of the door locking. The talking continued until the sound of the bucket crash came again and the victim began to scream.
"I opened my door and right in front of me the attacker was fleeing [the victim's] room," he said. Running after the attacker, the witness called for help and followed the attacker down the stairs toward an exit on the south end of the building. Hearing the call for help, another student in the dorm's kitchen joined the first behind the attacker and both followed him out the door across Woodland Street toward North Field. "We stopped chasing him when he entered the dark backyards across the street, not knowing if he still had a weapon," he said, explaining that as he returned to his room Security and 911 were being called.
As the chase ensued, sophomore Devon Gualtieri was sitting outside Noah with a stray dog she had found. "I saw three people quickly run outside," she said. Within a minute College Security arrived. The police arrived a few minutes after that, and then an ambulance came. She said people were kept out of the building while security went in. When the ambulance arrived, the victim was brought out, but nobody was allowed back in the building until the police could investigate the hallway where the attack occurred.
Although the police report said, "Property belonging to the victim was taken and the assailant fled from the dormitory,"
Oberlin Police Chief Bob Jones said the police still need to talk more with the victim before Monday evening's events are clear. However, it is assumed by the police that the assailant asked the woman to use the phone, she turned her back as he began to use it, and as her back was turned he proceeded to attack and rob her, although what he may have said and the details of his actions remained murky as of Friday morning.
At a meeting held Tuesday night to inform the College community about the event, Jones explained that there was no reason to believe there had been any attempt to sexually assault the victim. Dispelling student fears of follow-up attacks by the perpetrator of this incident, he also said, "In looking at the totality [of the incident], it was a single individual committing a single crime at a single point of time."
A break came in the case at eight a.m. this morning when Wynn, an eighteen year old resident of Oberlin, turend himself into the Oberlin Police Department, accompanied by his attorney, Jack Bradley. Neither were available for comment by noon Friday
Wynn was arrested and charged with attempted murder, aggravated robbery, aggravated burglarly, and burglarly. According to a press release from the police department, he had immediately fled to Louisville, Kentucky after the incident occurred.
On Thursday, Jones explained that someone did aid the suspect in getting out of Oberlin, although it is not known if that person knew the individual was possibly involved in this attack.this morning's press release said, "Investigation of this incident will continue to reveal any aid and assistance given to the suspect to flee the area."
The police department suceeded in avoiding a cumbersome extradition process by negotiating with the individual through members of his family to get him to return to Oberlin.
Keith James, director of safety and security at Oberlin, said, "I am very confident and comfortable that the investigation is going well."
The response of students and security to the attack was described by the anonymous student who chased the attacker as "Incredible." He said, "Students came quickly to [the victim's] aid, everybody doing their best to help. Security was very quick in their response, as were the Oberlin police."
He explained that after the attack, the residents of Noah came together to support each other, and the RCs and ACs were very supportive as well. "The warmth of response from students and staff was great. I think it indicated a lot about the quality of our community."
Wynn was arraigned this morning, and is being held under a 130,000 dollar bond in the Lorain County Jail pending Court hearings. No date has been announced for these hearings.
Copyright © 2000, The Oberlin Review.
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