Early on the morning of May 31, the university’s emergency alert system notified the community about a stabbing in the fraternity house of Delta Tau Delta (DTD). Since then, the house has been vacant and information about the incident and its investigation has been scant. According to DTD president Nolan Karpinski, members of the fraternity are as confused about the crime that took place there as the rest of the Tufts community.
On the day of the attack, police identified a Tufts student as a person of interest in the stabbing investigation. According to Somerville Police Department’s Deputy Chief Paul Trant, who declined the Daily’s request for an official interview, the department’s criminal investigation of the incident is still ongoing.
“This incident…is an ongoing investigation,” he told the Daily in an email. “I have no further comment beyond that.”
Deputy Chief Mark Keith of Tufts University Police Department (TUPD) declined to provide a general definition for the term “person of interest,” and referred the Daily to the Somerville Police Department.
According to a 2006 American Journalism review article, “person of interest” is a vague term that can have a number of meanings.
“A ‘person of interest’ hasn’t been charged, much less convicted, of a crime,” the article wrote. “But the term clearly casts suspicion … No one has ever clearly defined it – not police, not prosecutors, not journalists.”
The article explained that “‘person of interest’ often is a euphemism for ‘suspect,’” but said this is not always the case and that police would have to specify their use of the term on a case-by-case basis.
The Daily filed a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain any arrest records related to the case, but Trant said the department has no arrest records from the DTD stabbing to provide.
According to Executive Director of Public Relations Kim Thurler, the investigation is currently being conducted by the Somerville Police Department with assistance from TUPD.
On the day of the attack, two men who were unaffiliated with Tufts, aged 19 and 20, were transported to Massachusetts General Hospital for stab wounds in the neck, the latter of whom was listed as being in critical condition, according to a May 31 Boston Globe article. The attack, which occurred just before 4 a.m. on that Sunday morning, placed the Tufts campus on shelter-in-place advisory from shortly before 5 a.m. to around 8 a.m.
Six DTD brothers were living in the house at the time, but only three of the brothers were inside the house during the stabbing, according to the article.
Two victims among guests of DTD brother
Multiple sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid being associated with the incident and the investigation, have identified one DTD brother who was in the house during the stabbing as the person of interest, who also agreed to speak with the Daily anonymously. He said that on the day of the attack, there were five or six guests in the house, one of whom he had invited into the house and two of whom were the victims. The brother added that he did not know many of them.
“I invited one … [the rest were] tagalongs,” he explained. “I don’t, unfortunately, know much about any of those people.”
According to the brother, when the stabbings took place, he was unconscious in his room. The other two DTD brothers were also upstairs in their respective rooms in the fraternity house, he said.
“It happened on the first floor,” he said. “Everyone went down to the first floor and came to find the people injured.”
The brother stressed that there was not a party in the house that night.
“All the lights were on,” he said. “We had hamburgers and hot dogs out, we were eating dinner and watching hockey.”
He said it was very likely that the guests in the house were intoxicated, but that he could not be certain.
“I don’t even know where everyone came from,” he said.
The brother added that the victims have stated that they don’t remember what happened that night, contributing to the uncertainty of the investigation.
DTD President Nolan Karpinski confirmed that multiple non-DTD members were in the house that night, violating a university policy that prohibits fraternities from hosting guests in the summer.
“At the time of the incident, our agreement with Tufts University…was that there wouldn’t be non-brothers in the house,” he said. “That was a violation of our agreement.”
Karpinski said the assault would not have occurred if there was more supervision, but at the time of the incident only three of the six brothers who were planning to live in the house during the summer were there.
“In the middle of the summer…surveillance is just not there,” he said. “During the school year that would never happen.”
Karpinski said he could not confirm that the person of interest was identified as such, and is unclear about the person of interest’s level of involvement in the assault.
“We don’t really know what his involvement was,” he said. “As a brother, I would assume that he had no part in the wrongdoing, and so I’m going to continue to assume that going forward with my relationship with him.”
Karpinski spoke highly of the brother in question, and said that he has returned to Tufts for the current semester.
“He was in my pledge class, lovely kid, definitely one of my friends in the fraternity … he’s been put through a lot this summer, for whatever reason.”
According to a different anonymous source, the person of interest may no longer be identified as such in the investigation, but the person of interest himself did not confirm or refute this.
The identified person of interest said his brothers have been very supportive since the incident, and his hope is that the entire fraternity can move forward and heal.
According to Keith, the perpetrator of the stabbing will likely receive a prison sentence once they are identified, but the length of the sentence will depend on which charges will be levied against them. Since the investigation is still ongoing, no perpetrator has been identified.
Mayor of Somerville prevents brothers from living in DTD house
Karpinski said that in DTD’s original agreement with the university, the brothers were still to retain use of their house for the fall semester.
“We reached an agreement with Tufts University that we would be on social probation and … [disciplinary probation] … and that was going to be our punishment for the events that happened, and we were going to be allowed to live in the house under those sanctions,” he explained.
However, the 27 brothers who were planning to live in the DTD house were notified by email on Aug. 6 that they would need to find new housing for the semester.
“There’s a lodging license that we need to have more than four non-related people living in a house,” Karpinski explained. “Houston Hall needs it, South Hall needs it, Delta Tau Delta needs it. And usually it’s as simple as a stamp, and nothing’s thought of it, but in this case, it’s a discretionary permit and…[the Mayor of Somerville]…didn’t grant the permit, for whatever reason.”
Mayor of Somerville Joseph Curtatone has not responded to the Daily’s request for comment.
Karpinski confirmed that all displaced brothers were able to find housing and that no one is currently living in the DTD house.
It is unclear at this time whether DTD will face additional obstacles to recovering its house. According to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life website, DTD is one of five fraternity and sorority houses on campus that are “independently owned and operated by independent house corporations.” Although the house is privately owned, there are still situations in which the fraternity could lose its house, according to Thurler.
“Theoretically, a house could be closed by the house’s corporation and/or its national chapter in coordination with or independently from the university,” she told the Daily in an email. “It is premature to speculate on this situation.”
Karpinski said he and the brothers of DTD are unaware of the circumstances surrounding the crime.
“We really don’t know, and trust me, it’s been very frustrating throughout the last three or four months because of how little we know,” Karpinski said. “We got kicked out of our house for something that we still don’t know what happened, and the police investigation has been ongoing for three months now … It’s as frustrating to us as it is to anyone else that we don’t know what’s going on.”
According to Thurler, although the Tufts DTD chapter is on probation, it is still recognized as a fraternity.
“The university and the fraternity’s governing board are awaiting the results of the police investigation before making any ultimate decisions about discipline,” she told the Daily in an email.
According to documents provided by Karpinski, the DTD chapter has been on disciplinary probation since Aug. 8, which will last until May 22, as well as social probation until February.
“The chapter will be placed on social probation until at least Feb. 1, 2016,” the document said. “At the start of the spring semester 2016, social probation status will be re-evaluated and lifted at the discretion of the Dean of Student Affairs and the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.”
Thurler explained that disciplinary probation is a period of time during which “an organization is not in good standing with the university.”
“Violations of the terms of disciplinary probation may result in the revocation of the organization’s recognition and in the immediate closure of the chapter house,” she wrote. “During social probation, chapters are not permitted to coordinate and/or hold social events with alcohol, whether in the chapter house, brothers’ homes or third party venues.”
Another DTD source, who also spoke to the Daily on the condition of anonymity, expressed frustration at the lengthy, ongoing police investigation.
“The police have taken an extremely long time … no one was arrested … they still haven’t processed the work in the lab,” the source said.
DTD sees successful fall rush
According to Karpinski, the DTD brotherhood has seen its attempts to turn over a new leaf realized in its fall rush, which took place last week.
“It was incredible,” Karpinski said. “I was blown away and just heartened … [by] the commitment to DTD and the commitment to the brotherhood that our brothers displayed over the last two weeks … In fact, we had more interest this fall [than in previous years], for whatever reason … I really, really believe that people see the events as a singular and unrelated piece of who we are.”
Karpinski added that he has found surprising upsides to losing use of the house.
“It is unfortunate that we don’t have a house,” he said. “That is a significant piece of who we are as an organization, but I believe the impact that it’s going to have on our brotherhood is a positive one.”
He explained that before, it was easy to walk in and out of the house and loosely call 80 or 90 other brothers friends.
“The new investment that we now have to make in each other’s lives because we don’t have a house makes this a really exciting time to be a Delta on campus,” Karpinski said.
He emphasized that the brothers of DTD are focused on the future.
“As an organization we’ve done a remarkable job of putting this behind us as quickly as possible and moving forward,” Karpinski said. “This is not something we’re lamenting or digging up every time we talk to each other, it’s not a conversation that we feel like we need to have and we’re trying to move forward.”