The Department of Safety and Security and Brunswick police are on the lookout for a man who assaulted and robbed a Bowdoin professor in an apparently random nighttime attack.
Director of Security Randy Nichols says investigators have conducted interviews with a number of people who "saw important things" before and after the robbery.
Associate Professor of Physics Steven Naculich was walking home from the Hawthorne-Longfellow Library at approximately 10 p.m. last Tuesday when the assailant attacked him from behind and wrestled him to the ground in front of Gustafson House. Gustafson House, which is home to the Student Aid Office, is located on the Park Row side of Maine Street.
The suspect stole Naculich's possessions and fled in the direction of Coles Tower and Chamberlain Hall.
Investigators believe the assailant used nearby bushes as cover before the attack. He did not brandish a weapon.
Naculich said he suffered minor abrasions to his arms and knees, and has a sore neck, back, and ribs.
"I've been taking anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling," he said.
According to Nichols, the suspect demanded money and made off with Naculich's wallet, watch, wedding ring, and a black and blue Totes backpack.
The backpack contained a collection of Naculich's research papers.
"It represents about two months of calculations and will take some time to reproduce," Naculich said. "Fortunately, it's all still pretty fresh in my mind."
Last Thursday, investigators used a tracking dog to try to find the bag. The dog sniffed a piece of Naculich's clothing and searched the campus and local woods. Nothing was recovered.
"It has probably been dumped somewhere in the community," Nichols said.
Nichols said additional evidence was sent to the Maine State Police Crime Lab, but said he could not elaborate because the investigation is ongoing.
One student observed the suspect loitering in the area about five minutes prior to the attack. The student briefly saw the suspect and remembered enough information for investigators to create a composite sketch, Nichols said. That sketch was released on Wednesday and has provided additional leads.
"New information is coming in from a variety of sources," Nichols said Thursday evening. "It is a very active investigation."
Nichols said he could not provide information about specific leads because of the investigation.
Investigators believe that the attack was random. In a security alert sent via email to students and staff, the suspect is described as having a height of 5'10" to 5'11" with a thin build. He is approximately 19 to 22 years old with close-cut hair, which was possibly shaved. He wore a bandanna of an unknown color, rolled to about an inch wide. The suspect's skin seemed either tanned or dark pigmented. He wore baggy clothing and did not appear to be wearing eyeglasses or jewelry.
Readers who may have information that could contribute to the investigation should call the Department of Safety and Security or the Brunswick Police Department.
Ely Delman '06 is the head resident assistant of Brunswick Apartments. He said the Park Row sidewalk is one of two walkways that students usually use to go to Brunswick Apartments and that "there's been a lot of talk" from residents about the robbery.
"The residents I've spoken to are worried about walking back to Brunswick at nighttime," he said.
Catrina Cartagena '07 is one such resident. She tries to use a better-lit route to walk to Brunswick Apartments at night, and moves with groups whenever possible.
"I've even thought about buying pepper spray, if for no other reason than to make myself feel more secure," she said.
Cartagena represents the Class of 2007 in Bowdoin Student Government and plans to bring up Park Row lighting at its next meeting.
Assistant Director of Security Louann Dustin-Hunter checked the records of the College's annual lighting walks and said it does not appear that the Gustafson House area of Park Row came up as a concern. The next lighting walk will take place on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Nichols urged members of the community to take precautions. He advised that students use the College's shuttle service, which is dispatched by security and is available every night.
"Crime happens everywhere," he said. "We should not delude ourselves from thinking we're insulated from that."
Dustin-Hunter is also planning a Rape Aggression Defense (RAD) class for female students and staff. The class will take place on October 16 and October 23 from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. During the second session, participants will be given the option of participating in a mock attack scenario.
The class is free, but registration is required. Interested women should email Dustin-Hunter or call 725-3314.