The Collegian
Monday, May 16, 2022

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Update: WC senior speaks about most recent UFA break-in

An unidentified male assailant entered a locked Westhampton College apartment around 2:30 a.m. on Oct. 19, marking the second breaking-and-entering case reported this semester.

"Until two nights ago, I felt safe here," said senior Colby Sheffer, the victim who reported the breaking-and-entering. "We locked our door, but it still happened to us."

Sheffer, who lives in the 300 block of the University Forest Apartments, said that she awoke to the sensation of someone touching her face during the early morning hours.

"I was disoriented when I woke up," Sheffer said, "but I felt something touch my face and my whole body shook. It's not normal for me to wake up like that, and I knew, instinctively, that someone had been in the room."

Sheffer was fully awake and lucid when she heard the person run down the apartment stairs and slam the door. Her roommate, who wishes to remain anonymous, was asleep during the incident.

She was unable to make out a description of the assailant.

Sheffer's body was shaking as she went downstairs after the incident. The front door handle and the back door were still locked, Sheffer said.

University police arrived almost immediately after Sheffer called. When they arrived, Sheffer began to hyperventilate as reality set in. She never fell back asleep that night.

"The more I think about it, the more I'm positive that what happened, happened ... and, honestly, it's terrifying," Sheffer said.

Sheffer and her apartment-mates have vowed to use the deadbolt on the front door from now on, instead of only locking the door handle.

University police examined the apartment doors, and there was no indication of forced entry, University of Richmond Police Capt. Beth Simonds said.

Carolyn Bigler, the assistant director of undergraduate student housing, said that she would meet with the supervisor of facilities, associate deans and residence life to discuss whether UFA locks need improvements, considering the intruder reportedly entered a locked apartment.

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Sheffer is going to CAPS, Counseling and Psychological Services, and lamented on the unofficial title "the Tickler," which is commonly used among students to identify the intruder.

"We always used to joke and say thinks like, 'oh, if "the Tickler" comes in here, we'll tackle him,'" Sheffer said. "But, when you wake up to something like this, you're defenseless and vulnerable. It's anything but funny.

"You have to experience it to really understand ... this is a sick individual."

No items were reported missing or stolen after the incident, Sheffer said.

University of Richmond police do not have information on the suspect at this time.

"I want this to be a preventative message, because this is scary and it's real," Sheffer said. "I've literally never been so petrified. I feel for the other girls [victims], and I hope this never happens again."

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to contact university police at (804) 289-8715. To submit tips anonymously, visit the University Police Silent Witness webpage.

This version ADDS quotes from Colby Sheffer.

Contact staff writer Fred Shaia at fred.shaia@richmond.edu

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