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Message from President Joel Seligman Regarding Grand Jury Indictments Announced by Monroe County District Attorney

January 6, 2016

To the University Community,

Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley earlier today announced that the Grand Jury had handed down indictments in the criminal case involving the kidnapping of two of our students, Ani Okeke Ewo and Nicholas Kollias, from an off campus location in the early hours of Saturday, December 5. The District Attorney’s press release is appended below.

There have been many questions, rumors, and media speculation about the circumstances of the kidnapping. The Rochester Police Department and the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office are continuing to investigate this matter, and we will continue to cooperate with them to preserve the integrity of the investigation and prosecution.

Media reports have linked the kidnapping to a prior robbery. We have no information from the District Attorney’s Office confirming this. However, the DA’s Office has assured us that the kidnapping of our two students took place from an off campus location and appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Our kidnapped students appear to be the innocent victims of a horrendous crime.

As the indictments allege, the abducted students were subjected to threats, beatings, and intimidating and demeaning treatment by their abductors. One of the students was shot in the leg. Both students were hospitalized, but have since been released.

These allegations underscore the gravity of the situation, and make us particularly grateful for the rapid response of the University’s Department of Public Safety and the Rochester Police Department. I am reassured that this is an isolated and unusual set of circumstances. 

As always, campus safety is a priority. Working with University Public Safety, the Rochester City Police, campus housing and others, I have begun a review of what further steps we can take to strengthen campus safety and to address drug use on campus. Even before this review is completed, let me today announce that I have authorized Public Safety to initiate a new patrol unit, which proactively will address drug, alcohol, mental health and other safety issues on campus.

Even a University as generally safe as ours can be subject to these type of terrible events. I urge everyone in our community to be smart about the choices that you make, and to be diligent about your safety and the safety of those around you.

Let me close by reiterating my gratitude to the University Department of Public Safety, the Rochester Police Department and the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office, for their determined and timely efforts. I am especially grateful that our kidnapped students are safe and I am committed to doing everything that I can to ensure that all of our students, faculty and staff remain as safe and secure as is reasonably possible.

Joel Seligman
President

 

News Release from
The Honorable Sandra Doorley Monroe County District Attorney

January 6, 2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
COMMUNITY RELATIONS COORDINATOR: Mary Wilmot
Monroe County District Attorney’s Office
47 South Fitzhugh Street Rochester, NY 14614 (585) 753-4532

Monroe County Grand Jury Indictment Unsealed, Charging 6 Defendants with Crimes Related to University of Rochester Student Kidnapping

Rochester, NY- Today, a Monroe County Grand Jury Indictment was unsealed, charging David Alcaraz-Ubiles with 2 counts of Kidnapping in the Second Degree, 2 counts of Assault in the First Degree, Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree; Leah Gigliotti with 4 counts of Kidnapping in the First Degree, 2 counts of Assault in the First Degree and 2 counts of Gang Assault in the First Degree; Samantha Hughes with 4 counts of Kidnapping in the First Degree, 2 counts of Assault in the First Degree, and 2 counts of Gang Assault in the First Degree; Dennis Perez with 4 counts of Kidnapping in the First Degree, 2 counts of Assault in the First Degree, 2 counts of Gang Assault in the First Degree, 6 counts of Robbery in the First Degree, 2 counts of Robbery in the Second Degree, 9 counts of Predatory Sexual Assault in the First Degree, Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree and 2 counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree; Inalia Rolldan with 2 counts of Kidnapping in the Second Degree, Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree, Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree; and Lydell Strickland with 4 counts of Kidnapping in the First Degree, 2 counts of Assault in the First Degree, 2 counts of Gang Assault in the First Degree, 6 counts of Robbery in the First Degree, 2 counts of Robbery in the Second Degree, 9 counts of Predatory Sexual Assault in the First Degree, Criminal Use of a Firearm in the First Degree and 2 counts of Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Third Degree. All crimes are related to the December 5, 2015 kidnapping of two University of Rochester students.

In the early morning hours of December 5, 2015, University of Rochester seniors, Ani Okeke-Ewo and Nicholas Kollias, were last seen on the University of Rochester campus. Approximately 15 hours later, University of Rochester Department of Public Safety determined that the two students were missing and enlisted the Rochester Police Department to assist with the investigation and search.

On Sunday, December 6th, the Rochester Police Department SWAT Team was called to assist. After several hours of surveillance on a home on Harvest Street, in the City of Rochester, a heroic rescue was executed. Both University of Rochester students were retrieved from the home and taken to Strong Memorial Hospital. Nicholas Kollias, who had been shot twice, later underwent surgery for the gunshot wounds.

As a result of the investigative actions of the Rochester Police Department, 7 people were arrested and charged in connection with the kidnapping.

The crimes charged in the indictment unsealed today are indicative of the violent nature of the abduction and the extreme torture the victims underwent while being held for over 40 hours on Harvest Street.

“The investigation is still active and may yield additional defendants and charges.” said Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley. “We remain cautious about commenting on the specific facts and will not speculate on motive and other details that could hinder a complete and thorough investigation.”

DA Doorley further stated that “[W]e appreciate the patience and cooperation we are enjoying from the University of Rochester faculty and staff. We know this is a difficult time for the students and faculty but have asked that we all refrain from speculation or comment regarding the allegations in order to protect the integrity of the case in the final stages of investigation and upcoming prosecution. As far as the victims are concerned, we know they are both very fortunate in that they were located by the good work of the RPD SWAT Team. We applaud the collaborative efforts of the University of Rochester Department of Public Safety, the Rochester Police Department Investigators and the RPD SWAT Team.”

Defendants Lydell Strickland, Dennis Perez, Inalia Rollden and Samantha Hughes will appear back in court before Supreme Court Justice Alex R. Renzi on March 9, 2016 at 9:30am for motion argument. Leah Gigliotti will appear back in court before Justice Renzi on March 16, 2016 at 9:30am for motion argument and David Alcaraz-Ubiles will appear before Justice Renzi on January 20, 2016 for appearance with attorney and arraignment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Matthew Schwartz, Chief of the Special Investigations Bureau and Senior Assistant District Attorney Christine Callanan of the Major Felony Bureau.