A Binghamton University student is accused of stabbing a freshman to death in his dorm room on the New York college’s campus, authorities say.
Michael Roque, 20, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of fellow student Joao Souza, who was attacked Sunday night in his Windham Hall room, Binghamton University said in a press release. He is being held without bail.
Souza, 19, was originally from Brazil and lived in Westchester County, New York. He graduated from Blind Brook High School in Rye Brook last year. He is the second Binghamton student to be killed by another student in the past month-and-a-half.
Police have released few details about the killing so far. Here’s what we know about Roque, Souza and the second homicide of a Binghamton University student this year:
1. The Suspect Was Seen by Surveillance Cameras Leaving Souza’s Dorm Room With Gloves On & a Hooded Sweatshirt Covering Most of His Face
The suspect in the fatal attack, who has since been identified as Michael M. Roque, was captured on surveillance cameras leaving the dorm room of the victim, Joao Souza, Sunday night, Binghamton University Police said. Authorities released photos of the suspect, showing him wearing gloves with a hooded sweatshirt pulled tight around his head, on Monday, in hopes of identifying and finding him. Roque was not taken into custody until Monday afternoon, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reports.
Souza was found suffering from stab wounds in his room in Windham Hall Sunday about 10:30 p.m. Sunday, police said. He was rushed to UHS Wilson Medical Center and pronounced dead there. Classes were cancelled Monday as police searched the Binghamton campus in an effort to locate the suspect. Officials called the loss of Souza, and another Binghamton student who was killed last month, Haley Anderson, as “devastating.”
“The last two months have been very, very difficult,” Binghamton University President Harvey Stenger said at a press conference. “You can understand how difficult it must be for parents and for friends. You want to do anything you can to help them through these times.”
Officials stressed that they believe the campus will be safe and said there will be an increased police presence in the coming days. They also said they will be reviewing safety measures.
“I promise that we will learn from this tragedy, and I want to thank all those people who have worked so diligently over the last 20 hours to bring some closure to this horrible tragedy,” Stenger said at the press conference. “We are going to go over the last 20 hours, everything that happened, everything that we did, how we communicated with our population, with our community and see if there are ways we could’ve done it better. You kind of learn on the fly with these things, and we want to make sure that if anything could have been done better, especially with the communication with our community, we learn from that.”
2. Police Believe Souza, Who Was Stabbed Multiple Times, Was Targeted, but Have Not Released a Motive
Police believe Souza was targeted, but it is not yer clear why.
“Throughout the investigation, it became quickly evident to us that this was not a random act. I have to leave it at that for now,” Binghamton University Police Chief Timothy Faughnan said at a press conference. The investigation is still ongoing.
Roque’s brother, Julio Roque, 22, told Newsday that his family is struggling to make sense of what happened and his parents traveled to Binghamton on Monday after getting a call from the university. Julio Roque told the newspaper, “When I heard about it yesterday, I couldn’t believe.”
Roque is accused of intentionally stabbing Souza multiple times, police said. It appears a knife was used in the attack, according to investigators. But police and prosecutors have not revealed much about what they believe happened.
“There is a suspect in custody, and we will have further information at an appropriate time,” Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell said at a press conference prior to the release of Roque’s name. “We are very limited in what we can provide today, but we believe that charges are imminent and I can’t really speak to any of the facts of the case other than that.”
Binghamton University said in an alert, “law enforcement believes the attack was not a random act and that the victim was targeted.”
3. Roque Was Arrested in His Dorm Room on Monday & Has Pleaded Not Guilty
Michael Roque was arrested Monday afternoon at his dorm room on the Binghamton University campus. Few details about him have been released so far. The 20-year-old student is from Massapequa, New York, on Long Island, the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin reports.
“Roque has been assigned a public defender who entered a not guilty plea on his behalf at the Broome County Central Arraignment facility,” Binghamton University said in a statement. “Roque was taken to the Broome County Jail following the arraignment.”
He is expected to appear in Vestal Town Court in the coming days, WBNG-TV reports. Neither Roque nor his attorney commented after his court appearance. If convicted, he faces 25 years to life in prison.
Authorities haven’t said when they identified Roque or where they believe he was hiding during the 20-hour search for him. It is also not clear how long he had been in the dorm room where he was arrested, according to the Press & Sun-Bulletin. District Attorney Steve Cornwell told the newspaper, “The case moved rather quickly. We spoke to many witnesses in the case, many leads were developed and still have to be followed up on.”
University President Harvey Stenger said in a statement, “I thank our Binghamton University Police, New York State Police and the Broome County District Attorney’s office for their quick work in apprehending the individual as quickly as possible. As president, my top priority is keeping everyone in our campus community safe. I want to reaffirm to you Binghamton University’s commitment to providing a safe learning environment.
“Unfortunately, we live in a time where violence is part of society, and, as a campus of 17,000+ students and several thousand faculty and staff, there are occasions where violence will intrude on our campus. We will continue to focus on keeping ours a safe campus, with a fully-empowered state law enforcement agency that works closely with the residential communities to protect life and property,” Stenger said.
4. Souza, an Engineering Student, Was Remembered as a Star Soccer Player Who Had an Infectious Smile
Souza, an engineering student, moved to the United States from Brazil when he was in middle school along with his parents, the Journal News reports. His parents were in Brazil at the time of his death.
“We feel incredible pain and sorrow, we can’t even imagine their despair,” Student Affairs Vice President Brian Rose said in a statement “The family has requested privacy for Joao, and I ask you to respect their wishes.”
Christian Gonzalez, his coach at the New York Soccer Club in Scarsdale, told WABC-TV, “He’s probably the last person I would think of who would be confrontational or get into a fight. It’s really unimaginable what happened and we’re all heartbroken.”
He is pictured on the left in this photo with his NYSC teammates:
Sammy Landino, a Yale University student who was Souza’s friend at Blind Brook High School, told the New York Daily News Souza was a star soccer player in high school with a “contagious smile.”
Landino told the Daily News, “Joao was a great player, and so fun to watch as a fan. He loved soccer and he loved people. He always made you feel, when you were talking to him, like he always knew you. And I think everyone really appreciated that.”
5. A Binghamton Nursing Student Is Accused of Killing His Ex-Girlfriend, Also an Aspiring Nurse, at an Off-Campus Apartment Last Month
Joao Souza is the second Binghamton University student to be killed in the past month-and-a-half and Michael Roque is the second student to be charged with murder. Nursing student Haley Anderson, 22, was found dead in an off-campus apartment on March 8. Her ex-boyfriend, Orlando Tercero, is charged in her death. Tercero, also 22, fled to his native Nicaragua and was arrested there on March 14. Authorities are seeking to extradite him back to the U.S. so he can face charges in New York.
Anderson was found dead in Tercero’s bed. Tercero was photographed under arrest with a swollen lip and bandaged head. It’s not clear precisely how or when he was injured, but Nicaraguan police say the wounds were self-inflicted. This is the photo released by the Policia Nacional in Nicaragua of Tercero. The Nicaraguan police gave his name as Orlando Enrique Tercero Moreno.
General Commissioner Francisco Díaz Madriz, Deputy Director General of the National Police said in a statement that police received a request from the United States to track down Tercero, who entered Nicaragua on March 9 at 3:55 p.m. “Orlando was captured at the Hospital de León on Tuesday, March 13, and received medical attention for self-inflicted injuries,” the statement said.
Police said that the Tercero and Anderson previously were in a romantic relationship together and the death was not random. The death occurred at a home off campus. However, a friend said the pair were primarily friends.
“They hooked up in the past, but to her, it was pretty platonic and she didn’t want to have anything seriously,” Mishela Topalli, Anderson’s roommate, told Time Magazine. She said that Tercero was obsessed with Anderson and once damaged her property during a minor incident last Fall that police responded to.
WBNG television station reported that “police responded to a minor incident involving the two last fall, where Tercero had damaged Anderson’s property, but Anderson did not file charges.”
Anderson had a bright future, according to those who knew her. She was a nursing student at the Binghamton university, according to WICZ-TV. The television station reported that Anderson was a senior who would have graduated in May.
Anderson had a job on campus, working at Jazzman’s Cafe, the station reported. Anderson’s Facebook page says she was from Westbury, New York. Binghamton has a student body of more than 13,000 undergraduates. It’s located in central New York not far from Ithaca.
People who knew Anderson in both high school and college expressed shock to hear about her death. Wrote one woman on Facebook, “Taken way too soon. Although we haven’t spoken in some time, Haley and I were friends & teammates throughout high school. What happened to her is nothing short of tragic and unfair. She will be greatly missed but will always be in our hearts. Rest easy, beautiful ❤️”
A man who knew Anderson wrote, “I had the pleasure of working with Haley Anderson for a year or so and she was such a positive girl with such a bright future. The scumbag that did this deserves to be caught and put away for life, if not worse. I’m so tired of young people being taken away from us, especially these amazing people who brightened not only the people they touched but the world they lived in. Beyond chipotle I knew her through her Snapchat and I have to say that I laughed quite often going through her story. Rest easy now Haley, you brought light to all the people who had the pleasure of knowing you and they’re loved are better for having known you. My condolences go out to her friends and family. RIP.”