Cannibalism suspect described in police report as 'Virginia Tech waiting to happen'

Kinyua was involved in vandalism and beating on Morgan State campus

  • Alexander Kinyua, 21, is charged with first-degree murder of of a man whose dismembered remains were found in Kinyua's home and a nearby church trash container. Kinyua also admitted to ingesting the heart and portions of the brain of the victim, according to charging statement.
Alexander Kinyua, 21, is charged with first-degree murder… (Photo courtesy of Harford…)
June 04, 2012|By Peter Hermann and Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

Five months before a Morgan State University student was charged with dismembering a family friend and eating his heart and parts of his brain, a school instructor flagged the 21-year-old's erratic behavior, describing him as "a Virginia Tech waiting to happen."

That ominous depiction is contained in a campus police report written after Alexander Kinyua allegedly punched holes in an office wall in early December. It was the first of several outbursts and violent episodes leading up to the gruesome killing last week in Joppatowne.

It is unclear what, if anything, university officials did after the December incident in a computer lab at the Northeast Baltimore university's ROTC building, where Kinyua was a cadet. Staff Sgt. Robert Edwards, a military instructor, told campus police that Kinyua was an "unusually angry person."

Edwards' rationale for referring to the 2007 massacre at Virginia Tech University — where a distraught student killed 32 classmates — could not be determined; he could not be reached Monday for comment. But that tragedy marked a turning point on campuses nationwide as school officials sought to spot warning signs of troubled students before they acted out.

The police report, obtained by The Baltimore Sun, says that after the outburst, Kinyua was barred from campus without a police escort, pending an internal review with Morgan State's chief judicial officer, Seymour E. Chambers. He and other school officials declined to comment on that meeting, citing privacy laws.

A university source with knowledge of the disciplinary proceeding said Kinyua did receive counseling by police and others, and was deemed not to be a threat to the campus. He was allowed to return to campus and to classes.

Kinyua spoke at an anti-hazing forum in January — attended by Chambers, the police chief and the university president — unnerving fellow students by talking about human sacrifice.

University officials have said that the comments were more bizarre than scary, and thus did not prompt further review. A video of the event shows Kinyua rambling to laughter from classmates, talking about establishing a hazing policy for off-campus incidents and referring to "blood sacrifices. … I just want to inform people, because most people are unaware of it."

But this banter — combined with the revelations in the police report and the reference to Virginia Tech, as well as later assault allegations — raise questions about whether there were enough clues to warrant intervention by school officials or parents. Kinyua's father is a physics lecturer at the university; neither parent has responded to requests for comment.

Morgan officials said the outcome of any disciplinary hearing is confidential. The officials, who have refused to make the December police report public, repeatedly referred questions to university spokesman Clinton R. Coleman. He would only say that "the university is reviewing the details of this matter."

Dallas R. Evans, the chairman of Morgan's Board of Regents, also did not return messages seeking comment. Other board members referred reporters' questions to him.

Morgan's president, David Wilson, and the police chief, Adrian Wiggins, also declined to comment.

"I have nothing to say about this matter," said Wilson, who has not commented publicly on the killing and its connection to campus.

On May 20, police charged Kinyua with a random attack, alleging that he fractured a young man's skull with a baseball bat wrapped in chains. Two days after he was released on $220,000 bail, his 37-year-old housemate from Ghana, Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie, went missing.

The man listed as the victim of the baseball bat beating has hired an attorney, Steve Silverman, who said on Monday he's "in the process of investigating whether or not the university and its staff were negligent in failing to identify this ticking time bomb and extract him from the university community."

The police report on the Dec. 10 incident notes that two campus officers concluded that Kinyua "did not display any behavior that would warrant a psychological evaluation at this time." The report also says an officer did call the campus counseling center's emergency number, but got no response, and turned Kinyua over to his father.

The gory details of the killing have stunned the region and brought international attention to Harford County. Agyei-Kodie, who had been in the school's graduate program and was awaiting deportation back to Ghana, had been taken into the household by the Kinyua family.

According to police, Alexander Kinyua's brother found the victim's head and hands in tins in the basement of their Joppatowne home Wednesday; the rest of the remains were found in a trash bin at a nearby church.

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