Reporter wants more information in murder case at Louisiana university





\nLOUISIANA - A police incident report on public relations\nstationery. A missing affidavit. A cause of death given as no\nmore than "multiple wounds." A coroner's report that\ncannot be released.

These are only some of the problems that a reporter for a community\nnewspaper in Lafayette is facing. Megan Woolhouse, a reporter\nfor The Advocate, claims that she has had numerous problems\nwith the campus police department at the University of Southwestern\nLouisiana and the lack of information they have furnished about\nan April murder that occurred on campus.

Student Jill Tompkins was murdered in her apartment, allegedly\nby her roommate Mary Beth Dolan. Dolan was charged with second\ndegree murder on June 9, but claims that she did not commit the\ncrime.

Dolan was responsible for giving police a description of a\nman who is still wanted for questioning.

The lack of statements made by the police has caused problems\nfor Woolhouse.

"Very little [information] was given out," she said.

"I think [campus police officials] gave out the most bare\nbones information they could."

The problems started when Woolhouse received the initial incident\ninformation on the university's public relations stationery.

"That was extremely frustrating," she said, adding\nthat she never received the actual incident report, though she\nnow believes she could have access to it, were it needed.

"I don't think it would take any wrangling right now,"\nshe said, but it is "of little news value."

The coroner's report also has not been made public. But under\nLouisiana state law, coroner's reports can be closed while a case\nis still under investigation.

The only cause of death released in the case is "multiple\nwounds."

But university police Chief Joey Sturm said the department\nis only following procedure.

"I've been as open as required by law," he said.\nHe added that the department has followed the directions of the\ndistrict attorney's office, which did not want the department\nto release much information.

Woolhouse also claims that one of the most puzzling elements\nis the police officers' affidavit--that normally accompanies an\narrest warrant--was either not made available to the media or\nwas not filed.

But Sturm calls that claim "ludicrous," explaining\nthat an affidavit is always filed with the arrest warrant.

Myra Kodner, an information and research specialist for Security\non Campus, said obtaining facts from a campus police department\nis important to control rumors.

"It gives people the information," she said. "Nothing\ngets out of hand."\n


Fall 1999, reports