YPSILANTI – A 29-year-old man was arraigned today in Washtenaw County District Court on three counts of malicious destruction of property, four counts of identity theft and one count of using computers to commit a crime stemming from vandalism incidents that took place on Eastern Michigan University’s campus beginning in fall 2016. The suspect, identified as Eddie Curlin, is a former student at Eastern who attended from 2014 to early 2016. He is currently in custody of the Michigan Department of Corrections serving a one-to-five year sentence on an unrelated charge of receiving and concealing stolen property.
Malicious destruction of property is a misdemeanor under Michigan law. Identity theft is a felony, as is the charge of using computers to commit a crime. Curlin was returned to the Michigan Department of Corrections following his arraignment on the charges.
The charges stem from incidents that took place in September 2016 at King Hall, in which a hate message was found spray painted on an exterior wall; an October 2016 incident in which a racist message was discovered spray painted on an exterior wall of Ford Hall; and, a third incident that took place last spring in which a racist message was found in a men’s restroom stall in Sherzer Hall.
“Our officers have worked on this case extensively since day one,” said Eastern Michigan University Chief of Police Robert Heighes. “We appreciate that people wanted a fast arrest but, in many cases, that is not the way police work happens. I recognize the anger, fear and frustration that these incidents caused for many of our students, faculty and staff, and I thank them for their patience and understanding as we conducted a thorough investigation. I would like to acknowledge Det. Charles Mosher specifically for his work on the case, as well as the many officers in Eastern’s public safety office who worked tirelessly and professionally throughout the investigation. In addition, I would like to thank our external partners who assisted and supported our efforts.
“I am pleased that after its review of the evidence, the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office proceeded with an arraignment in this case.”
Over the past year, the Eastern Michigan University Police Department has committed more than 1,080 hours, equivalent to 135 full-time, eight-hour days, in the investigation into identifying the criminal or criminals responsible for the incidents. More than 60 people have been interviewed and a reward of $10,000 was offered. More than 1,200 hours of video from more than 100 campus cameras was reviewed, as well as video from nearby businesses. In addition, nearly 20 search warrants have been executed; a large number of pieces of evidence have been processed and analyzed; and, data from numerous cellphones have been evaluated.
Considerable support has been provided by external agencies, including:
Eastern Michigan University President James Smith said, “The incidents of vandalism on our campus created significant pain, fear and distress among our students, faculty and staff. I joined with many of our community in my own personal anger over these incidents .The many initiatives put in place as a result of the incidents are vitally important and will continue regardless of the outcome of the criminal proceedings. As one of the most diverse higher education institutions in Michigan, Eastern’s commitment to inclusiveness and being a welcoming community for people of all backgrounds is an ongoing priority.
“Among the initiatives put in place since last year: the investment in additional campus security measures, including more lighting and cameras; the establishment of the Presidential Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, chaired by Professor Ronald Woods of the Department of Africology and African American Studies; and, expanded training in diversity and inclusion among University leadership that is now being expanded to other employees. These and other actions will continue to move forward with the focus, determination and importance with which they began.”
Heighes said, “EMU police efforts related to the investigation of these crimes are in addition to the day-to-day work in providing a safe community for students, faculty and staff. The safety of our community is achieved through the cooperation of our campus community and support for the EMU Police Department, both on campus and in patrolling areas of Ypsilanti surrounding the campus.”
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