A Death in the Family

April 1, 2008

In late January, Abhijit Mahato, a Ph.D. candidate in civil engineering, was found shot to death in his apartment south of campus. Police, who have charged a nineteen-year-old man with first-degree murder in the case, believe the motive was robbery. In an e-mail message to the Duke community, President Richard H. Brodhead said, "I write to share my great sadness over [this] sudden and senseless death….Having spoken with Professor Tod Laursen, in whose lab Abhijit was making important contributions, I have a sense of his great promise and endearing character. I extend my sympathy to Abhijit's friends and colleagues and to all members of the Indian and Hindu community for this appalling loss." A campus memorial service was held for Mahato, who was originally from Tatanagar, India.

In response to Mahato's death and other recent crimes in some areas surrounding campus, Duke and Durham police officials held a town-hall meeting on campus to discuss security issues. Duke police increased patrols of apartments and other locations near, and on, the campus.