by Luz Villarreal
The University of La Verne’s Stu-Han (women’s) dormitory was illegally entered last weekend when a male was able to walk into two rooms in what the residents involved believe were rape attempts.
The women involved say their rooms were locked when the suspect entered the dorm at approximately 5 a.m. Sunday, April 10, unarmed. He escaped before security or police arrived.
The suspect was described by one resident as a White male with blond hair with a tail on the back, light eyes, wearing a white T-shirt and blue jeans, and in his early 20s.
The suspect is still at large, but the La Verne Police Department says it has a lead on his identity.
Once inside the dorm, the suspect went to Wing 2 and entered a room where both residents were sleeping. The man approached one of the roommates to put his hand over her mouth, when she woke up and screamed. The suspect ran from the room and fled to Wing 1. At this point, the woman called Rebecca Keeton, Stu-Han Resident Director.
When the suspect entered the second Wing 1 room, he grabbed a long eyeliner pencil that he used to make his victim believe was a knife. He went to her bed and covered her mouth with one hand and pressed the pencil against her side.
The victim said she woke up at this time and was confused. She said she tried to keep talking to the man so she could wake her roommate.
“He pressed the pencil deeper into my side. I felt it wasn’t sharp and reached for it and broke the eyeliner. He seemed real jumpy and nervous,” she said.
At this point her roommate woke up and yelled “Get out! Get out!” and the suspect fled. The victim ran out of the room and started screaming for help.
“I screamed for a few minutes and nobody came out of their rooms. The first one to come was Laura (Heinze, Wing 1 resident assistant),” she said.
The ULV security guard on duty that shift was Weekend Security Guard Greg Cumming. He said the RD called him at the Security Office at about 5:20 a.m. He then went to Stu-Han and “checked the outside of the building while the RD’s husband, Art Keeton, checked the inside of the building. We checked for a good half-hour. He checked the bathrooms and I went around to check windows without screens,” he said.
“Then I went to Circle K because I saw somebody who fit the description walking toward there. I was just about to walk into Circle K when I heard screams coming from Stu-Han,” Cumming said. “I turned around and ran as fast as I could. I saw the suspect run out the side door which is next to the Law Library and run toward Bonita going west.
“Art Keeton had already started chasing the suspect from inside the dorm and stopped when the suspect reached the street,” Cumming said.
Cumming ran to the police station to report the incident. “The police immediately arrived and started their report. They checked to see if there was were signs of a forced entry, but there didn’t seem to be any sign of that,” Cumming added.
The second victim said, “I think door chains (in the bedrooms) are a good idea, but evidently they are a fire hazard. I don’t know if more security people would make a difference.
“The guy did not look like scum of the earth. He looked like a clean cut, All-American guy. I don’t think he was drunk, but maybe he was on something (drugs). He didn’t look like what you’d think a rapist would look like.
“It makes me mad because you feel safe here because this dorm has so many people. I’m not too angry because something happened. I’m mad mostly because he was-able to get into Stu-Han,” she said.
Since the incident, she has been treated unfairly by students on campus, she said. “I wish they’d (students) just treat me the same. It makes things worse when you hear rude comments. I don’t feel any different, I just want to get on with things,” she added.
Rebecca Keeton said there are at least four ways the suspect could have entered. “He could have gotten in through an open window, a propped door, followed someone in or taken a screen off a window.”
In telling about the incident, Keeton said, “After the first girl called me, I called Security. He (Cumming) came up when I was still in the first girl’s room. He got there and I left to get a report and check the bathrooms (with Art).
“This is before we realized he was in another room. I was waking somebody up to have them close their window and I guess Art heard a noise. He turned toward Wing 1 and saw a door open and started hearing the girls scream. The suspect ran past us. That’s when Art started chasing him to see if he was going to a car. He wanted to see whether he could get a license plate number or something,” she said.
Rebecca Keeton added, “It’s hard to say he was attempting rape. I think he was attempting assault.”
She does not believe the doors to the rooms entered were locked. “I think some of the doors, if you don’t slam them behind you, don’t lock. If that’s the case, they (residents) should turn in a facility request form to have locks fixed,” she said.
“Our graveyard guard is working out at Stu-Han every half hour every night. We’re going to keep heavy security the rest of the year,” said Robert Rodriguez, director of security.