Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Gallaudet Murders

The Cogswell Hall Killer

Gallaudet University's Cogswell Hall
Gallaudet University's Cogswell Hall

That the killer had emerged from a community more like family than what most campuses offer seemed especially wounding. "It hit us hard when we didn't expect it," a student wrote on a reporter's pad.

Students who knew Mesa still could not believe the news, despite his arrest and impending trial. One told reporters that he'd attended high school with Mesa and believed he was not the kind of person who would kill anyone, but others said he'd often been in trouble. A former roommate had even seen him swipe money from other students. Still, Mesa was friendly and respectful, and generally considered to be a nice guy. It was difficult for students to ponder a person who had vowed to dedicate himself to the deaf, yet had looked around for just the right person to kill and calculated the best way to do it. He did not even form a plan to just rob them, which he'd apparently already done without discovery. Murder had been on his mind.

But then the story emerged about Mesa's suspension from the school the year before. He had taken another student's debit card and used it to the tune of several thousand dollars. But he'd been allowed to return. And this would not be the only disturbing pre-trial revelation.

Charged with two counts of felony murder, one while armed, along with some robbery and burglary charges, Mesa was held without bail for his preliminary hearing. He showed no reaction as he answered the charges, but like the thief in the night that he was, he already had plans to slip off his responsibility. He had admitted to robbery, yes, but the murders had been motivated by something else, he would say. He started writing to several people he believed could assist him in his scheme.

The trial was set for November 2001.