She was a disciplined, fearless young woman of great promise, a Wesleyan University junior with a passion for women’s health issues. He was apparently disturbed, a man with shaky relationships and a malevolence toward Jews who threatened them and others on the campus in Middletown, Conn.
The lives of Johanna Justin-Jinich, 21, and Stephen P. Morgan, 29, had intersected briefly — and ominously — two years ago, when both attended a summer course at New York University. Apparently obsessed with her, he called repeatedly and sent 38 harassing e-mail messages. The university and the police were notified, but he had left town and she declined to press charges.
About 1 p.m. Wednesday, Morgan walked into a campus bookstore, then toward the Red and Black Cafe, where Justin-Jinich worked. He was a bearded, menacing figure recorded on the overhead surveillance camera, a pistol in his right hand swinging at his side, and something else hidden behind him in his left hand.
It was a long-haired wig and he put it on, the balding man undergoing a bizarre transformation. He confronted her, raised the handgun and fired seven shots at point-blank range, officials said.
Justin-Jinich fell, mortally wounded. The assailant retreated the way he came in, dropping his wig, long-sleeved shirt and a Czech-made CZ-USA 9 mm automatic.
Outside, he milled around with students while police cars and an ambulance converged on the tumultuous scene. Checking witnesses, one officer asked for his name and phone number in case the police needed to contact him later, but let him go, The Hartford Courant reported.
It was not until hours later, after Justin-Jinich had been pronounced dead at Middlesex Hospital and the victim’s family had given investigators Morgan’s name that police realized that they had stopped him outside the bookstore, the newspaper reported. It was unclear if he had stayed to watch the chaos or could not escape quickly because his car was blocked by emergency vehicles.
In any case, Morgan left his car, with Colorado license plates, in the bookstore parking lot, and in it his notebook journal and laptop computer. In the journal, the police later discovered what may have been an even more elaborate and diabolical plot — to rape and kill Justin-Jinich and then go on a shooting spree on the Wesleyan campus.
Morgan was still missing on Thursday, the object of a nationwide alert with a $10,000 reward and a manhunt that focused on Middletown, a community of 48,000 in central Connecticut. Investigators said they believed that he had driven to Middletown from Boulder, Colo., arriving a day before the shooting and staying in a local hotel.
As family, friends and the Wesleyan community mourned the slain woman and investigators sought to unveil the motivations and recent movements of the fugitive, the authorities in Middletown warned of a dangerous and possibly armed man on the loose.