Screams and sirens shattered the Sunday morning peace at Harvard University when a pre-med student stabbed a roommate to death and wounded a guest, then hanged herself in a bathroom at a dorm known for its eclectic inhabitants.
The attacker was identified as Sinedu Tadesse, 20, of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Friends said Tadesse had seemed anxious and unhappy as the academic year was coming to a close. Final exams ended Saturday; graduation is June 8.
“I saw her last week, and she seemed quite frustrated in the library studying and sort of had a glazed look on her face,” said a fellow pre-med student who spoke on condition of anonymity.
First Assistant District Attorney Martin Murphy said Tadesse shared one room of their two-room suite on the building’s second floor with 20-year-old Trang Ho, a Vietnamese native. Both were juniors.
Thao Nguyen, 26, was visiting Ho and sleeping in the other room when she was awakened by sounds of a struggle, Murphy said. He said Nguyen saw Tadesse stabbing Ho.
Murphy said Nguyen tried to intervene and was stabbed herself, so she ran to the courtyard for help.
Authorities said the weapon was a knife with a blade that folds into a wooden handle.
Ho was pronounced dead at Cambridge Hospital. Nguyen was treated for superficial stab wounds and released.
Murphy said Tadesse ran into a bathroom, barricaded the door and hanged herself. She died later at a hospital.
Authorities declined to speculate about a motive, although they said there were no signs of problems between the roommates.
The two had lived together last year and had chosen to be roommates again, friends said.
Karel Liem, a professor and house master at the dorm, said both women were serious students who worked hard and were in extremely good academically standing.
The school’s newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, said Sunday night that it had received a note and a photograph, believed to be of Tadesse, last Tuesday.
“Keep this picture. There will soon be a very juicy story involving the person in this picture,” the typewritten note said.
After the stabbings, the paper contacted Harvard police, who recovered the envelope and photo from a garbage bin outside the newspaper office.