Crime and Responsibility

Former U professor arrested on murder charge, students left in the dark

Former University of Minnesota senior lecturer Rose Marie Kuehni was arrested in December 2015 and charged with the murder of her boyfriend, Douglas Bailey. Bailey was reported missing on Nov. 30 after he and then-girlfriend Kuehni failed to join his family for Thanksgiving dinner.

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Illustrator: Taylor Daniels

Kuehni has admitted to fatally shooting her boyfriend—which she claims was in self-defense—on Nov. 22 of last year. She also confessed to later hiding his body in their shed. Kuehni attests that four days after the murder, she orchestrated the transportation and disposal of Bailey’s body and belongings, which she packaged into two boxes and delivered to her acquaintance, Clarence Hicks. Hicks then drove the remains to Kentucky and unwittingly disposed of them. County authorities have deemed Hicks a material witness.

When asked if Kuehni posed a threat to students, Kuehni’s defense attorney, Mark Gherty, declined to comment. Bailey’s sister, Carol, however, is not silent on the subject.

“[Kuehni] had no intention for Doug to ever be found,” she said in an interview with Wake editor Russell Barnes. “This was premeditated.”

The Wake interviewed Peter Hilger, faculty director of Kuehni’s construction management department, with regards to student safety.

“She didn’t show any signs to me,” Hilger said when asked about Kuehni’s stability. “There was no evidence of anything strange, though I did not know her personally.”

Hilger also told The Wake that he does not believe that Kuehni posed a threat to students.

Kuehni has worked as a lecturer for the University since 2003 and was instructing two online classes at the time of her arrest. Despite Kuehni’s affiliation with the University, the majority of the student population remains unaware of her crime. When asked what they knew about the trial, the vast majority of students reported never having heard of the incident and were stunned to learn that one of their professors has been convicted of murder. While shocked to hear of Kuehni’s arrest, students were especially concerned that the University has yet to notify them.

Trey Sorenson, a current student, had some concerns regarding the University’s handling of the case.

“I’m not upset, but it does seem irresponsible,” Sorenson said.

When asked how they wish the University would have notified them, most students answered that the best course of action would have been to send out a timely warning, a University email used to alert students of campus troubles such as fires or muggings.

“It’s a little ironic,” Karla, a University freshman said. “[The University will] send out an alert about a mugging in Dinkytown but not this. We trust those alerts.”

Such an occurrence raises questions regarding the University’s responsibility to its students. While staff members were alerted of Kuehni’s arrest on Dec. 9, 2015, students have yet to receive such a civility.

What’s more, retrieving information on such cases can prove difficult for students. The Minnesota Daily did not cover Kuehni’s case until early February. Even if students scoured other sources for word of Kuehni’s crime, the only Twin Cities news service that made the connection between Kuehni and the University, without sourcing a wire service, was WCCO. Other timely articles were not available unless students looked into the Pierce County Herald. Unlike The Daily, the University had the capacity to inform students—as is illustrated by the timeliness in which University staff were briefed—yet failed to do so.

Such an occurrence raises questions regarding the University’s responsibility to its students.

Understandably, the University could in no way divulge all information regarding Kuehni due to legal concerns, but nevertheless, students should have been informed to the greatest extent possible.

“It’s part of [the University’s] job,” student Bessma Dabaan said. “As students, we have a right to know.”

When prompted, the head of University Relations, Chuck Tombarge, confirmed the facts of Kuehni’s former relationship with the University. He has declined to make any further statement on behalf of the University.

There was no evidence of anything strange, though I did not know her personally.

Media relations specialist Joseph Koktan later clarified the University’s position.

“We do not comment on personnel matters,” Koktan said. “This is a law enforcement matter.”

With the University remaining tight-lipped on Kuehni’s case, it is no wonder that the majority of students are left in the dark.

Bailey added to Barnes that she had a number of questions, one of which University students can surely identify with. “I would like to know what kind of instructor [Kuehni] was, and if what she told us matches up with reality.”

In the case of University students, however, this question extends more broadly; why has the University failed to notify its students of this stark reality?