MIT Stunned by Student's Murder


The MIT community reacted with sorrow, shock, anger and fright this week to the stabbing death Friday night of a 21-year-old junior from Norway, during a mugging that netted $33, while he and a friend walked on Memorial Drive near the Hayden Library.

The body of the victim, Yngve K. Raustein, a Baker House resident from Os, Norway, majoring in aeronautics and astronautics, was due to to be flown today to Norway for funeral services, tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29. An MIT representative will attend the services.

A memorial service will be held at MIT, which the victim's family is planning to attend, at a date to be announced. Baker House residents are planning a candlelight vigil Thursday at 7pm on the Kresge oval.

MIT students were quoted in The Boston Globe as saying that, while they were made somewhat apprehensive by the crime and intend to exercise increased caution, they regard it as a case of urban violence and still feel relatively safe on campus.

As an immediate measure, Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin said her department was stepping up patrols on campus and, in response to a flood of requests, was increasing its crime-prevention education programs and seminars. In addition she has asked both Cambridge and the State/Metropolitan police to increase their presence on public roads.

Chief Gavin said she would weigh all suggestions for enhanced security from students and others and take these up with the administration.

Meanwhile, three youths, arrested in Kenmore Square, Boston, soon after the slaying, were held in high bail in Cambridge District Court.

In a separate arraignment because he is a juvenile, Shon McHugh, 15, whom police say stabbed Raustein, was ordered held in $1 million surety or $500,000 cash bail by Judge Severlin B. Singleton in Cambridge District Court. McHugh is being held at a juvenile detention center in Revere and will return to court for a pre-trial conference on October 6.

The Middlesex District Attorney's office said it will seek to have McHugh tried as an adult.

In an adult session of the court, Joseph D. Donovan, 17, and Alfredo Velez, 18, were ordered held in the Cambridge Jail by Judge Arthur Sherman on $1 million surety or $100,000 cash bail. They were represented by appointed counsel and will return to court on October 1 for a pre-trial conference.

Donovan appeared in court with a broken right hand, injured when he punched Raustein to the ground in what police said was a "wilding" kind of attack called "knockout" in which drunken marauding youths compete to see who can knock down victims chosen at random with one punch.

McHugh and Donovan are Cambridge residents and students at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School. Velez, currently a Charlestown resident, lived in Cambridge last year and attended the high school, a spokesman for the Cambridge schools said.

First Assistant District Attorney Martin Murphy said Velez had confessed to his role in the crime, taking a wallet from Raustein's companion, Arne Fredheim, an undergraduate research affiliate from Norway.

He added that the three "went to the MIT campus for the express purpose of stealing money from MIT students."

The high bail set for McHugh, five times the amount requested by the district attorney's office, prompted criticism from his family and friends, a number of whom appeared in court, and from his attorney, Al Nugent, who said:

"If this case had happened in Dorchester, if this case had happened in Roxbury, or Charlestown, we wouldn't be talking $1 million bail. But we have MIT here, we have newspaper people here. In addition to that, we have a foreign student who apparently is an outstanding young man. That, most respectfully, is not what the court should base its bail on."

Murphy, the assistant district attorney, had told the court that McHugh expressed no remorse and had bragged about how the five-inch knife blade had gone all the way through Raustein's body.

Cambridge School Superintendent Mary Lou McGrath spoke on the telephone with MIT President Charles M. Vest and later issued a statement offering her department's "deepest and most sincere sympathy."

"The irony of this tragedy," the statement said, "is that the students of MIT and Cambridge Rindge and Latin have shared plans to work closely this year."

She said this would continue "despite this despicable crime" and that such cooperation would help "heal the wound that has been opened by this irresponsible and unthinking act."

"There is no excuse for violence, particularly this form of senseless violence, violence that challenges the senses of the school, the university, the nation."

Violence prevention has been a priority in Cambridge schools, she said, explaining that 20 violence prevention activities and projects had been introduced at the elementary and high school level during the past three years.

In recounting the death of Raustein, Chief Glavin said he and Fredheim were walking east on Memorial Drive en route to Walker Memorial shortly before 9:45 Friday night when they encountered three youths walking in the opposite direction.

Fredheim, 22, said he had met Raustein for the first time after arriving at MIT for the fall semester.

They were heading toward the Muddy Charles Pub in Walker Memorial, he said, when the three youths approached and passed them. In interviews with The Tech and MIT Tech Tech Talk, he gave this account of what happened next:

After the three walked past, they turned around and followed Raustein and Fredheim, commenting on the fact that the two MIT students were speaking in Norwegian. After some talk back and forth, the students turned to face the suspects.

"When we turned around, I began to think there could be trouble," Fredheim said. "I was prepared to try to talk us out of the situation, but it all happened at once.

He said one of the trio, presumably Donovan, seemed very angry, walked up to Raustein and punched him in the face, knocking him to the ground. As he was getting up, a second assailant, whom police say was McHugh, approached Raustein with a knife in his hand. At this time, the third member of the group, reportedly Velez, told Fredheim to give him his wallet, which he did.

At this point, Fredheim lost sight of Raustein and did not see him stabbed. As the three ran away, he turned around and saw Raustein on his knees, trying to stand. Raustein took two or three steps and then fell backwards and Fredheim saw that his t-shirt was covered with blood.

Fredheim said it all happened "very quickly," perhaps 30 seconds or so. He said Raustein did not say anything to the assailants during the fight and he did not think Raustein put up a fight. "As far as I know, he didn't get time to do it," he said.

He said the assailant with the knife had it out before Raustein had regained his feet from the first punch.

At the arraignments Monday, Asst. Dist. Atty. Murphy said the three fled after taking both Raustein's and Fredheim's wallets-Raustein's containing $30 and Fredheim's $3.

Murphy said the suspects tossed the wallets into the Charles River as they ran over the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge, into Boston. A spring-action knife, believed to be the murder weapon, was recovered near Kenmore Square; Raustein's wallet was found floating in the river.

During the flight, one of the three reportedly menaced an MIT student passerby, saying, "What are you looking at?"

That person and Fredheim later identified the suspects, police said.

The MIT Campus Police, the first on the scene, were called by a student walking on Memorial Drive after the three assailants ran past him, Chief Glavin said. The Campus Police received the call, made from Hayden Library circulation desk, at 9:46, she said.

The Campus Police administered emergency care, including CPR, and called immediately for an Advanced Life Support team of paramedics to respond. Raustein was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital but was pronounced dead at about 10:15, police said.

Police said Raustein had been stabbed at least twice, one of the wounds penetrating the heart.

Based on information provided to police by witnesses, a description of the suspects was broadcast by the State Police. At about 10:12, two Boston University police officers spotted three individuals matching the descriptions and arrested them.

The murder was the second on the MIT campus or environs in recent years, but the first of an MIT student. In 1987, a fight at the Student Center involving an outside group resulted in the fatal stabbing of a Northeastern University student. The assailant was convicted of the crime.

The only murder of an MIT student that anyone can recall took place in 1975 when two students hitchhiking back to the Institute were picked up at Massachusetts Avenue and Beacon Street by four men who stabbed, shot and beat them while robbing them. John L. Asinari, 20, of Arlington, Mass., an MIT junior majoring in biology and planning a career in medicine, died from his wounds. His companion, though seriously wounded, survived by pretending to be dead. One suspect in the case killed himself while in custody and another was convicted of murder. The other two were never identified.

Another murder that occurred on Memorial Drive, near MIT, in recent years was that of an assistant district attorney who was assaulted while with his fiance on the river side of the roadway.

Raustein's death was not the only violence involving an MIT student over the weekend. An 18-year old freshman woman was punched to the ground and then struck on the face by a radio wielded by a man who assaulted her Sunday evening as she and a friend were walking on Massachusetts Avenue near Albany Street at about 6:30.

MIT Campus Patrolman Paul Baratta, who was nearby, saw the incident and placed a man identified as Ronald McMillan, 30, of Boston, under arrest. He later was turned over to Cambridge police. The MIT student was treated for contusions and abrasions to her mouth area and released.

The MIT Campus Police issued a special bulletin during the weekend noting the slaying of Raustein "points out the risks of criminal victimization in our urban environment and requires a review of personal safety precautions and procedures for all members of the community."

It urged members of the community to avoid perimeter areas after dark and to travel within the campus, preferably through campus buildings, and also to utilize the after-hours campus safety shuttle service, A Safe Ride.

While it was not clear whether Raustein offered any resistance to the robbers, Chief Glavin said that robbery victims should "never, ever fight for property."

"It's always a good idea to simply hand over your wallet," she said. She added that it was a good idea to keep a small amount of "mugging money" in the wallet to satisfy assailants, but not to carry large sums unless necessary.

President Charles M. Vest, who went to the slaying scene Friday night from the nearby President's House, later issued a statement in which he said the community was "shocked and saddened." It said he had spoken to Raustein's father by telephone "and conveyed to him and his wife our great sympathy and sorrow."

"It is unfortunately true," the statement said, "that no citizen of this world is immune in this age of violence. It is a tragedy."

President Vest also was present Saturday at Baker House with Chief Glavin, Associate Dean for Residence and Campus Activities James R. Tewhey, Medical Department counselors and other deans. They were there to address students' concerns and to discuss the issue of campus security.

A version of this
article appeared in the
September 23, 1992

issue of MIT Tech Talk (Volume
37, Number
7).


Topics: History of MIT

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