NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Rutgers University’s administration has been extraordinarily quiet about the recent killing of a former student just blocks from campus, while a spokesman for New Brunswick police falsely claimed that Rutgers had alerted “all of their students” of the incident.
Billy McCaw, a 22-year-old man who had recently transferred to a different college, was found dead in the backyard of strangers two weeks ago this morning on Hartwell Street, a block mostly occupied by students.
Contrary to claims made by New Brunswick Police Captain JT Miller at this week’s City Council meeting, the University still has not sent out an email notification to the student body regarding McCaw’s death.
Capt. Miller said that both Kean and Rutgers had “put out mass e-mailings” in an effort to produce leads in the unsolved murder investigation.
“Rutgers University and Kean University… they put out mass e-mailings to all their students asking for more information,” said Miller.
While it is true of Kean, most of Rutgers’ 65,000 students received no such email.
Despite a vigil that drew more than 300 concerned students on Wednesday, the university’s President Bob Barchi has been completely silent on the killing.
Barchi’s subordinates, including Gregory Jackson and Felicia McGinty, have been privately responding to concerns that have been pouring in from students and parents, but the university has not issued any statements about the incident.
On Monday, Rutgers Business School students received an email offerring assistance to grief-stricken students, but that email did not include information about where to report information on the heinous crime.
“When something terrible like this happens, it is especially important for each of you to take good care of yourselves, both physically and emotionally. Take care to engage in healthy habits, like getting enough sleep, eating right, exercising, and avoiding the overuse of substances,” read the email from Martin Markowitz, a Senior Associate Dean at the Business School.
The majority of students and faculty have received no communication about the tragic loss of McCaw.
Asked Thursday if Rutgers had sent an email to all its students, Acting Middlesex County Prosecutor Andrew Carey admitted, “I have no idea what Rutgers did about that.”
Nevertheless, Carey said the investigation is active and “we’re still looking for help from the community.”
Carey’s office today confirmed that “no arrests have been made, but the investigation is active and is continuing.”
Carey is leading the investigation, and thus far his organization has been the only one to notify the public of the murder.
The initial statement from the prosecutor’s office came more than 24 hours after McCaw’s lifeless body was found, and omitted McCaw’s connections to Rutgers and New Jersey.
The press release said he was a Kean student from Gallatin, Tennessee. In reality, McCaw lived in New Brunswick six days a week and with his grandfather in Flemington, NJ on Sundays.
Earlier that morning, a spokesman for the Rutgers Police Department distanced the school from the victim in response to a question from New Brunswick Today
“It is my understanding that the [deceased] is a former Rutgers Student, however not currently enrolled and/or otherwise affiliated,” said Captain Michael Rein of the RUPD.
The New Brunswick Police Department chose not to use their Nixle emergency notification system, either to alert residents of the crime scene or to seek information on the brutal killing.
Neither Rutgers nor the city’s Mayor James Cahill has issued an official statement of their own.
Russell Marchetta, a spokesman for Cahill, did not respond to a question emailed earlier this week about the mayor’s silence on the city’s first murder of 2014.
Rutgers University’s media relations department did not answer direct questions this week asking if they had sent any communication to students in an attempt to assist the investigation.
Instead Rutgers spokesperson EJ Miranda gave this answer:
“The Rutgers University Police Department worked with the lead investigating agencies (the New Brunswick Police Department and the Middlesex County Prosecutor) in canvassing the neighborhood to distribute flyers requesting the community’s help to gather information. RUPD continues to assist the lead agencies in the on-going investigation.”
By comparison, at Kean University, located nearly 20 miles away, officials confirmed that a campuswide email was sent their entire student body on February 18, three days after the killing.
The full text of the email is below:
Kean University mourns the loss of William “Billy” McCaw, an accounting major and recent transfer to Kean. McCaw died tragically in New Brunswick Saturday morning. He was 22 years old. The University community extends its condolences and deepest sympathy to the McCaw family, who are in the process of arranging services.
The Kean Counseling Center, located in Downs Hall room 127, is available to provide counseling resources to any students and community members seeking assistance.
If anyone has any information related to Mr. McCaw’s death, please contact Det. Sgt. Gorman of the Kean University Police Department at 908-737-4823 or by email at [email protected].
Many parents of Rutgers students have expressed outrage that there has been little formal communication.
Jacqui Klein, whose daughter lives in off-campus student housing, told New Brunswick Today that faculty had not been notified of the killing, and were instead learning about it as students did, “through the grapevine.”
Klein, a member of the Rutgers Parents Association, recently wrote an open letter to Barchi imploring Rutgers to acknowledge the murder and expressing disappointment in the Barchi administration.
“A beloved young man was killed in your community…. There is not an announcement of increased security or more cohesive cooperation between NBPD and RUPD, not an expression of sorrow at a life cut too short, not an offer of counseling or support for our children who we entrusted to your guidance, not even an acknowledgement that is happened.”
After New Brunswick Today contacted New Brunswick Police Director Anthony Caputo, who also serves as the chairman and President of the Middlesex County Crime Stoppers program, asking if there was a reward for information in the case, an announcement was formally made to media outlets.
“Shortly after the tragic death of Mr. McCaw, Crime Stoppers posted a cash reward for information on our web page,” Caputo told New Brunswick Today this morning.
And earlier today, the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office announced via press release that Crime Stoppers was offering an undetermined reward for “for information that leads to an arrest in the death.”
The award amounts will be determined by the Crime Stoppers Board of Directors, according to the release.
According to the release:
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Martinez of the New Brunswick Police Department at (732) 745-5217, extension 6028, or Investigator Daniewicz of the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office at (732) 745-4018.
People who have information and wish to remain anonymous may contact Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County Inc. by telephone, text or website.
The phone number is: 1-800-939-9600. The website is: middlesextips.com. Text messages may be sent to 274637 (CRIMES) with the keyword ‘’midtip’’ followed by a message.
Those who call will be given instructions on how to collect cash rewards by using a numerical code that will be recognized by a local bank, which will pay the rewards following approval by Crime Stoppers of Middlesex County Inc.
Editor’s Note: The fourth photograph in this article (flowers and McCaw jersey) was taken at last Wednesday’s vigil by Jennifer Han.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate, a community organizer, and a former independent candidate for mayor of New Brunswick.