Harvard junior kills roommate, then hangs self


BOSTON -- A Harvard University pre-med student brutally stabbed her roommate to death with a large knife yesterday morning after months of increasing tension between them, law enforcement officials say.

After killing Trang Ho as she lay in bed yesterday morning, 20-year-old Sinedu Tadesse barricaded herself in a dormitory bathroom and committed suicide, they said. She strung a rope around a shower rail, police said, and hanged herself.

A third woman, a visiting friend of Ms. Ho's, was injured as she tried to stop the repeated stabbing.

The murder-suicide was the culmination of months of bickering between the junior roommates. Ms. Ho, a 20-year-old from Medford, Mass., had decided to find a new roommate for next year.

Ms. Tadesse became increasingly irrational and sent a one-page letter to Ms. Ho last month after learning they would no longer be roommates after living together for two years, said Ms. Ho's sister, Thao.

"I thought we were going to do stuff together, you'll always have a family to go to and I am going to have no one," wrote Ms. Tadesse, who is from Ethiopia.

Ms. Ho had spent little time in the pair's Dunster House room over the past month, her family said.

Ms. Tadesse began the attack in the Dunster House dormitory shortly after her alarm clock sounded at 8 a.m. yesterday, police said.

Thao Nguyen, a 26-year-old Lowell, Mass., woman visiting Ms. Ho, was stabbed as she tried to stop the attack, police said. She was treated for stab wounds at Cambridge Hospital and released.

Middlesex County Assistant District Attorney Martin Murphy told news conference that investigators did not have a motive for the attack, which began without notice or provocation.

But several students confirmed Ms. Ho's decision not to live with Ms. Tadesse next year.

In April, Ms. Ho told a student she was looking for a new roommate because of tension between her and Ms. Tadesse.

Ms. Ho and Ms. Tadesse were both pre-med students.

Another student, Mohammed Khan, said Ms. Tadesse was "stressed and frustrated" by her studies. When he saw her in the library last week, she had a "glazed" look, he said.

"She seemed really stressed out," said Mr. Khan, a senior who lives on the floor above the two women.

Both women were described by other dormitory residents as hard-working and quiet.

In a bizarre twist, Harvard University Police last night searched a Dumpster and recovered an anonymous letter and a picture delivered to the Harvard Crimson newspaper on Tuesday.

The note stated that the person in the picture, believed to be Ms. Tadesse, would soon become newsworthy: "Keep this picture. There will soon be a very juicy story involving the person in this picture."

Police were testing the materials for fingerprints.

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