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Homicide Suspected in Death of Harvard University Undergrad

David L. Okrent

By Josh Bittker
Managing Editor

David L. Okrent, a junior majoring in physics at Harvard University was found dead in Revere early Sunday morning.

Okrent was found stabbed once in the neck on Revere Beach at about 6:30 a.m. by a man walking his dog. He was pronounced dead on arrival at Massachusetts General Hospital shortly afterwards.

The State Police are investigating the case as a possible homicide. However, said James M. Borghesani, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Ralph C. Martin II.

The official cause of death is still under investigation as well, according to the Suffolk County Medical Examiner's Office.

Students, staff mourn Okrent

Okrent, 20, was originally from Evanston, Ill. The Boston Globe reported that officials from Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary accidentally called David's father, Lawrence Okrent, to find out if he wanted to donate his son's organs before he had been contacted by Harvard officials or the Evanston Police. He found out about his son's death when he tried to call Okrent's room.

When no one was home, he called the tutor of Cabot House, the dormitory where Okrent lived. "It was like being kicked in the gut with a heavy boot," Lawrence Okrent told the Globe.

At Harvard, students and staff are mourning the loss of a student described as popular and committed to serving others.

"He was a popular fellow," said Daniel M. Ring, who attended Evanston Township High School with Okrent. "He really had a good idea of what friendship was all about."

Okrent was a member of the math team and the founder of a branch of Habitat for Humanity at his hometown high school. "He appealed to a lot of different people, and he knew how to have meaningful relationships with a lot of people," Ring said.

Beverly Neugeboren, wife of the senior tutor of Cabot house, said that Okrent "was a well liked student. We're all very sorry to see him gone."

Students, faculty, and staff gathered last night in Cabot house at Harvard to give remember him by reading poetry and stories about him.

Harvard provides support

Harvard University officials are offering an extensive support program for those affected by the loss of Okrent.

Alex Hupp, a spokesman for Harvard, said that there will be a "powerful outreach program to students affected by this." While no official memorial service has been scheduled, Hupp said that it was likely an event would be organized for later this week.

Okrent recently switched his concentration from mathematics to physics, and took a semester off last spring. He is survived by his parents and two older sisters.