YPSILANTI (WWJ) – After a student athlete was murdered and reports of rape in dorm rooms, law enforcement agencies are increasing patrols near Eastern Michigan University.
Beginning Friday, the EMU Department of Public Safety, the Ypsilanti Police Department, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department and Ypsilanti Township each will dedicate officers to begin specifically patrolling the Leforge Road area north of the EMU campus in Ypsilanti.
“This collaboration is an important step in helping to ensure the safety and security of EMU students and others living in and visiting the area north of campus,” EMU Police Chief Bob Heighes said in a statement. “Residents should quickly be aware and comforted by the increased police presence.”
The increased patrols come after student and varsity football player Demarius Reed was found shot to death in a hallway at the University Green apartments, on Green Road near Leforge Road, where he lived. The 20-year-old was shot multiple times in what police say may have been a robbery.
Reed’s death is the second murder recorded at EMU in less than a year. Last December, 23-year-old undergraduate Julia Niswender was found dead in her bedroom at the Peninsular Place Apartments on Huron River Drive, located across the street from the campus police station. Her death was ruled a homicide — official cause of asphyxiation associated with drowning.
Like Reed’s case, Niswender’s murder remains open as no suspects have been identified or arrests made.
Police said two reports of sexual assaults that occurred last weekend at the school’s Putnam Residence Hall also factored into their decision to increase patrols. In both instances, the women reported being raped in their dorm rooms.
In the first case, police said the victim was acquainted with her attacker, 19-year-old Michael Allen Tillmon-Cornett of Ecorse, who was arraigned Tuesday on two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.
In the second case, police said the suspect and victim are believed to be acquainted as well. The suspect, an unidentified Ohio man, was questioned by EMU police, who turned their investigation over to the Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office to review for possible charges.
Heighes said the cooperating departments will soon establish a working office in the area, which includes a variety of apartment complexes with a high proportion of EMU students.
EMU and the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department will each dedicate two of their own officers to the joint effort, and Ypsilanti Police will dedicate one. One of the two officers provided by the Sheriff’s Office is paid for by Ypsilanti Township.
Heighes said the effect of the increased team patrols would be tracked and evaluated over the next few months and at the end of the year.
The University has also begun working aggressively with several area landlords in discussing further safety measures. Those plans, which presently include the University Green complex, could include steps such as adding security cameras, adding emergency call stations, organizing a neighborhood watch program and expanding shuttle hours into the night.
Anyone with information on Reed or Niswender’s death is urged to call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-SPEAK-UP.