An unknown individual has entered rooms without permission, stolen money and destroyed students’ clothing in Johnson Hall. After three weeks of such incidents, the episodes were reported to the Andover Police Department.
On May 6, a Senior in Johnson found that five pairs of her shorts had been cut up while she had been out of her room. When she was in the shower later that day, a sixth pair of shorts was cut.
The house counselors of Johnson, Erin Lanzo, Teaching Fellow in English, Patrick Farrell, Instructor in Math, Karen Farrell and Lixia Ma, Instructor in Chinese, gave the Senior money from the dorm fund to replace the shorts, but the money was stolen from her room, according to the Senior.
Other girls in Johnson recently found clothing in their drawers cut up as well, according to Ma.
Initially, the house counselors hoped that an individual would admit to the destructive acts and seek help from the Isham Health Center or the Graham House Counseling Center, according to Ma.
After a series of dorm meetings with Cindy Efinger, Dean of West Quad South Cluster, Paul Murphy, Dean of Students, Margaret Jackson, Associate Director of Graham House, and the house counselors, the incidents were brought to the attention of Phillips Academy Public Safety (PAPS) and the Andover Police Department.
Murphy said, “We don’t really see this kind of stuff in dorms. Sometimes you see people taking things out of the dorm refrigerator or an item of clothing from laundry that’s left out for days and weeks, but [these incidents] seemed to be out of the blue. Of course we don’t have special ways to know what’s happening either, so it made sense to also report [the incidents] to the police at that point.”
According to Ma, the students were asked to report all suspicious behavior in the dorm.
Two Uppers who live in a three-room double heard someone moving around in their common room and knocking on their doors early in the morning. When they asked each other if they were up that early, both said that they had not gotten out of bed, according to Ma.
According to the Uppers, several other students also woke up to find their dorm doors opened at around 3 a.m. a few days prior.
Murphy said, “[Involving the police] sends a message to the dorm that, if it’s happening from within the dorm, this is not just a prank. This is making someone’s life miserable potentially, and it’s possibly criminal.... [It] mattered to us to have the police come in and talk to the dorm after we had already met with the kids.”
The Senior said, “[The shorts that were cut] were expensive shorts, so it’s more than just a prank. It’s more than annoying, but mostly it’s just creepy to think that someone is going into your room when you’re not there.”
“Although it sounds scary, we all want to create a safe and happy environment in the dorm. [The students should be] alert but still not scared. They should know that unexpected things happen all of the time. I think most of the the dorm handled it very well,” said Ma.
Murphy does not know whether the police plans to continue to investigate the incidents.
“We’re just hoping for a good end of the school year and to not have anything happen between now and next week,” he said.