Student Slain on Memorial DriveBy Karen Kaplan
An MIT junior was fatally stabbed after an apparent robbery Friday night near Hayden Library as he and a male companion were walking east on Memorial Drive. Three suspects have been taken into custody in connection with the slaying.
Yngve K. Raustein '94, a 21-year-old Baker House resident from Os, Norway, and another MIT student were confronted by three Cambridge Rindge & Latin high school students near the path leading to the passageway between Building 14 and the main buildings at approximately 9:45 p.m., according to the Middlesex County District Attorney's Office. The youths were identified as Joseph D. Donovan, 17, Alfredo Velez, 18, and Shon McHugh, 15.
One of the youths exchanged words with Raustein and his friend, a scuffle ensued, and Donovan punched Raustein, who fell to the sidewalk, a District Attorney spokesperson said. The three youths then stole Raustein's and his friend's wallets, which contained a total of $33.
Then McHugh allegedly stabbed Raustein in the heart with a knife a number of times, according to the District Attorney and the MIT News Office.
Another student who happened to be in the area reported the incident to MIT Campus Police after hearing screams and commotion, said Anne P. Glavin, chief of Campus Police.
Campus Police, State Police, Cambridge Police, and paramedic units all responded. Raustein was taken immediately to Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:05 p.m., Glavin said.
Suspects arrested at BU
The three suspects then tossed the wallets into the Charles River and fled the scene, running over the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge and into Boston, the District's Attorney's office said.
State Police broadcast an all-points bulletin for the three young men, two of whom were described as white and the other as Hispanic or African-American. At approximately 10:15 p.m., Boston University Police apprehended the suspects, who were "fleeing on foot" near Kenmore Square, they said. Witnesses later identified the three as those responsible for the murder, according to the MIT News Office.
Donovan, Velez, and McHugh were charged with murder and armed robbery and all are being held without bail. Donovan and Velez are being held at the Metro/State Lower Basin lockup, and McHugh is at a juvenile facility in Revere, according to the District Attorney's office.
The three will be arraigned tomorrow morning in Cambridge District Court. It is not clear whether McHugh will be tried as an adult.
"We believe Shon McHugh stabbed him," Middlesex County District Attorney Thomas F. Reilly said yesterday. "All three were charged with murder and armed robbery."
"It's a joint venture -- a murder that occurs in the course of an armed robbery," Reilly said. "We're alleging they are all responsible for it."
Ranjana Mitra '96 and other students reported seeing a State Police van with blue flashing lights and boats with searchlights and divers in the Charles River between 11:30 and midnight, apparently searching for evidence. Divers recovered Raustein's wallet, but his companion's is still missing.
Police recovered a knife, believed to be the murder weapon, in Kenmore Square, Reilly said.
Safety issue revisted
The stabbing has forced students, administrators, and campus police to revisit the issue personal safety at a large, urban campus
"Memorial Drive traditionally has had its problems after dark," Glavin said yesterday. "You could walk down there 10 times and never have a problem, but the 11th time you might. ... The bottom line is that this tragic incident points out very graphically the risks of criminalization in an urban area."
President Charles M. Vest, Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey, Glavin, and psychologists from the MIT Medical Department met with Baker House residents yesterday morning to inform them of the stabbing and of the resources available to help them deal with their grief, residents said. Glavin spoke about personal safety within an urban environment, and students discussed ways of making the campus more safe, including increasing lighting on Memorial Drive and adding more vans to the A Safe Ride fleet. Baker House residents were instructed not to speak to the press.
One Baker resident, Manish Goyal '95, said he reacted with mostly fear and depression to the news of the stabbing. "This will definitely change the way in which I go about my life. ... Sometimes I study at the library late at night and then walk home. I'm going to be doing a lot less of that," he said.
"It is kind of scary if some place that you think is safe really isn't," said a junior who asked not to be identified. She said the stabbing probably wouldn't cause her to take more safety precautions, "But I will probably try to convince my friends not to just walk around all over the place at night -- a lot of them do without even thinking about it."
The last murder at MIT was at a 1987 party in the Student Center, when an argument erupted, and a party-goer, who was not affiliated with MIT, was stabbed. The most recent murder of an MIT student was in 1975, when John L. Asinari '76 and another student were beaten and stabbed after they tried to hitchhike a ride across the Harvard Bridge into Cambridge, Glavin said.
Friends remember Raustein
Raustein, who transferred to MIT last year from a school in Norway, was an Aeronautics and Astronautics student who often worked by himself. Acquaintances described him as a quiet, friendly and well-rounded person who "usually had a smile on his face." Many Baker residents said they barely knew Raustein and that he spent much of his time with other Norweigan students.
He was a member of the Lecture Series Committee and Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Raustein was also interested in photography, and worked as a bartender in Norway.
"He was a very outgoing guy, unusually outgoing, I would say," said Martin O. Szummer '94, a friend of Raustein's. "I took a Spanish class with him, and we were always telling each other jokes."
Raustein created some controversy last winter when he posted ethnic jokes to a computer discussion group. The jokes, which made fun of Jews, were deemed offensive by many users participating in the discussion as well as in a Feb. 4 Tech column by Jonathan E.D. Richmond PhD '91.
In a written statement, Vest called the murder a tragedy. "We mourn the loss of a promising student. That sense of loss is made a little greater because he was a visitor to our country," he said.