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January 9, 2003

Noose incident called “isolated”

A black professor’s discovery of a noose in his Crabtree Hall classroom was an isolated incident that did not pose a direct physical threat to the professor, Pitt police and the FBI’s Pittsburgh office have determined following a joint investigation.

“In the absence of a confession or an eyewitness, the case lacks evidence for prosecution” and is now considered to be inactive, Pitt announced in a statement yesterday, Jan. 8, summarizing the investigation results.

Stefan Wheelock, 31, an assistant professor of English, reported to Pitt police that when he arrived to teach his “Introduction to Critical Reading” class on Nov. 21, he discovered a miniature noose fashioned from cord and placed behind his lectern next to a copy of “Invisible Man” by African-American author Ralph Ellison. Wheelock requires the book for his course.

According to Pitt’s statement, campus police and FBI investigators determined that the noose “was fashioned from a window shade pull cord”; “a window shade pull cord in the classroom became detached from a shade, causing the shade to retract to the top of the window frame well,” and “numerous shades throughout the building have their pull cords fashioned in the same manner.”

Investigators also found that the book belonged to a student in Wheelock’s class who said that she inadvertently left it behind following the Nov. 14 class. Investigators could not tell whether the positioning of the book and the noose were related.

The University Times could not reach Wheelock for comment yesterday.

— Bruce Steele

Filed under: Feature,Volume 35 Issue 9

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