Attacks Boost Dorm Security at Penn State

July 14, 2006
PSU police response adds more officers to student dorms

Penn State University Police said they have no plans to scale down heightened security in South halls after two dorm room break-ins early Tuesday morning in which residents fought off an assailant.

University Police Assistant Director Tyrone Parham said the first of the two incidents occurred at about 5 a.m. in Cooper Hall, which is currently occupied by high school students participating in a Penn State program. The victim, whose name police did not release, was a 20-year-old female employee of that program. The victim does not have a roommate, and her door was unlocked at the time of the break-in, Parham said.

A freshman second-floor resident of Haller Hall said Tuesday she was the victim of the second incident, which happened at about 5:30 a.m., Parham said.

The Haller Hall woman (freshman-journalism), who did not want her name used, said she woke up early Tuesday morning to an unknown man hovering over her, attempting to steal money from her purse, located on a bookshelf above her bed. Her room was also unlocked.

The woman in Haller Hall said she clawed at the man's side while he held her mouth shut so she could not scream. He told her he would kill her before covering her head with a sheet, taking $20 and running away, she said.

Parham said the victim of the Cooper Hall break-in also awoke to the sound of the assailant's movement and fought him until he fled the scene.

However, there was no indication that the unknown person attempted to steal money or anything else from the Cooper Hall room. Though the Haller Hall incident was immediately reported at about 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, the Cooper Hall incident was not reported until around 11 a.m. Tuesday. Parham said he couldn't speculate why the woman involved in the first attack had waited to call the police.

Parham said the two incidents that occurred about a half-hour apart seem linked to the same person -- although a suspect has not been named. He added that Cooper Hall is a "five minute walk" from Haller Hall.

Parham said there are numerous patrol officers inside and outside the buildings as well as student auxiliary security. He would not comment on the specifics of the investigation, but he said the descriptions given by both victims match.

The man is described as a white male with an average build who was reportedly wearing a black T-shirt and a black hat or cap, according to a university police press release. It is unknown how the man gained entrance to the buildings, Parham said.

Parham said interviews are still in the process of being conducted in Cooper Hall, adjoining Hoyt Hall, Haller Hall and adjoining Lyons Hall. Interviews were also conducted with residents of other buildings as new tips emerged, he added.

University police took photos of the woman's Haller Hall room, powdered the door and bookshelf for fingerprints and took the sheet and wallet to process for evidence, the Haller Hall woman said Tuesday.

(C) 2006 Daily Collegian via U-WIRE