2 Charged In Dartmouth College Campus Mugging
Troy C. Schwarz
Hanover — Two Upper Valley men are being held on robbery and assault charges after allegedly attacking a 23-year-old Dartmouth College student as he crossed the campus green early Wednesday morning.
Mark Ruppel, 26, and Troy C. Schwarz, 20, were arraigned Wednesday in Lebanon Circuit Court. Both face three felony charges: robbery, second degree assault and falsifying physical evidence.
Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis called the attack an “isolated and random event.”
“There is no indication that there is a pattern here,” Dennis said in an interview. “There is not any indication that (the assailants) knew the victim,” he added.
Two assailants reportedly took Dartmouth student Hubert Clark III “by surprise” as he walked across campus just after midnight on Wednesday, according to a police statement. The assailants reportedly hit and kicked Clark, and stole money and other items from him.
Clark was treated for non-life threatening injuries at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center following the incident and has since been released. He declined to comment on the situation on Wednesday.
The scene of events unfolded early Wednesday morning when witnesses reported seeing three males attack Clark on the Green and then head toward South Main Street. Law enforcement officials responded and found four males behind Molly’s Restaurant in the town’s municipal parking lot.
Two of the males, allegedly Ruppel and Schwarz, had “obvious blood on their person or clothing.”
Police determined one of the men was just passing through, while the other wasn’t involved with the attack.
After being taken to the station for processing, officials saw two $5 bills, a $1 bill, two tickets to an upcoming event at the Hopkins Center, an old ticket to a concert at Fenway Park and a receipt for the Red Sox Team Store fall out of Schwarz’s boxer shorts.
Clark confirmed to police that those were his belongings.
The investigation is ongoing, Dennis said.
Ruppel, who police say is from Canaan, but court documents say is from Lebanon, is being held on $20,000 cash bail, while Schwarz, who police say is from Lebanon, but court documents say is from Springfield, N.H., is detained on $10,000 cash bail.
Neither had posted bail as of Wednesday evening and were being held at the Grafton County Jail, according to an official at the Grafton County Department of Corrections. Both are slated to appear in Lebanon Circuit Court on July 14 for probable cause hearings.
Some students on the Dartmouth College campus on Wednesday heard about the attack, but said it didn’t make them immediately fear for their safety.
“I was a little concerned because I often walk from the library to the Green to my home, so being a girl it is a little bit more scary,” rising senior Ester Cross, 21, said, noting she walks the route “a lot.” Cross said she would consider carrying pepper spray in the future.
Others also said they would take additional steps to ensure their safety when venturing out at night.
“I will probably walk with somebody else,” said alumna Lillian King, 28, who is in town for the theater festival VoxFest and was notified about the attack via a campus-wide email.
King said she doesn’t remember any similar incidents during her stint as an undergraduate at Dartmouth from 2003-2007.
“It seems pretty rare,” King said.
Dartmouth Media Relations Director Diana Lawrence said only three incidents of robbery have been reported on campus over the past 11 years.
“We are always concerned about student safety,” Lawrence wrote in an email to the Valley News. “Because the Hanover police were so prompt and apprehended the suspects so quickly, we do not feel that they pose a threat to the community.”
Lawrence said the two assailants received “trespass letters” from college officials, meaning if they are caught on campus again, they will be arrested.
A police affidavit gave an account of the alleged incident:
Clark was walking across the green with food he had purchased from the Collis Center and hoped to sit down on a bench and eat it. Clark said he heard footsteps approaching, which he said was “odd, given the path that he was taking,” and suddenly one of the assailants, allegedly Ruppel, walked past him, turned and punched him.
“The male continued to punch him in the face and he fell to the ground attempting to protect himself,” the affidavit states.
Clark removed his wallet during the attack and said, “Here take it, take it,” but the assailants continued their attack until deciding to exit the Green toward South Main Street.
Clark sustained a laceration between his lower lip and chin, an abrasion on the back of his head, an abrasion on his left elbow and “significant” bruising on his right temple, which was “thought to come from being kicked by a boot.”
“Every time you hear about something like that it makes you question your own safety,” said Dartmouth medical student Ben Hills, 28.
Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 603-727-3248