A 19-year-old Maryland college student was charged Friday with fatally stabbing her roommate inside their dormitory-style apartment after the two women argued about music playing from an iPod, police said.
The death of Dominique Frazier, 18, rattled the campus of Bowie State University, a small, historically black school in the Washington suburbs. Classes were canceled as students, who were in the midst of a week of homecoming festivities, gathered somberly inside a gymnasium. Grief counselors were on hand and some students huddled outside for an impromptu prayer service.
Fellow students described growing friction and fights between Frazier and her roommate, Alexis Simpson, who was charged with murder and assault Friday and was being held without bond pending a court hearing Monday.
The latest confrontation occurred Thursday night after Simpson shut off an iPod belonging to Frazier as the women and other students were preparing for a school-sponsored comedy show, according to police charging documents. The iPod had been playing music from inside the women's shared bathroom.
Police said Frazier emerged from her bedroom, and the two began arguing in the hallway. Simpson produced from her bedroom what other students said appeared to be a knife and began making swinging motions at Frazier, who clutched at her bleeding throat, staggered into the hallway and collapsed, police said. She was pronounced dead at a hospital.
"I didn't mean to do it, you all don't know what I've been thru (sic), you all jumped me," Simpson said, according to a Maryland State Police statement.
Simpson, of District Heights, Md., fled the campus after the stabbing, which was reported shortly after 8 p.m. then turned herself in to police around midnight. Her attorney did not immediately return a call seeking comment, and no one answered at a home phone number listed on the charging documents. A bond review hearing was set for Monday.
Frazier was a second-year student who had not yet obtained enough credits to be classified as a sophomore, while Simpson was a transfer student who was also credits shy of completing her freshman year, said university spokeswoman Cassandra Robinson. Both students were pursuing majors in business administration. Several students who knew Frazier said that she and Simpson had not gotten along since moving in together to a suite at the start of the school year, though they weren't sure what had caused the disagreements.
"This kind of senseless violence is difficult to understand," university officials said in a statement. "The entire university community is distressed that this type of violence has occurred within our midst."
Students said Frazier, who was two days shy of her 19th birthday, was a fun-loving, gregarious student, who enjoyed singing, cracking jokes and making people laugh. Her mother, Denise Frazier, did not return calls from The Associated Press.
"Dominique was a free-spirited" person, said Jabree Wright, 19, of Baltimore, who lived in the same dormitory last year.
Jamie Holloway, a 21-year-old senior from Temple Hills, Md., who did not know the victim or suspect, said fights between students in the past have typically been handled by campus police without escalating into deadly violence.
"It feels weird, seeing police tape where you spend the night at school. But it's something we're dealing with as a university," Holloway said. "This is a small university, so we're kind of like family."
Some of the students who emerged from a noon campus gathering were crying and hugging each other. About a dozen formed a tight circle for a prayer service. As one young women doubled over with sobs, a female student in the prayer circle closed her eyes and prayed for strength.
"In the name of Jesus," she said, her voice raised, "we will not be the same."
Bowie State, founded in 1865, is part of the University System of Maryland and has 5,600 undergraduate and graduate students. About 1,400 students live on campus, and nearly 82 percent receive some form of financial aid.
The Christa McAuliffe Residential Community building on campus, where the young women lived, is managed by an outside firm, Capstone Management, Robinson said. Each suite consists of four single bedrooms with a common living area and kitchen.
The dorm houses mostly upperclassmen, Robinson said, and students who request to live there are assigned to suites at random.
Robinson said that in general, if roommates have problems, their first step would be to speak with a resident adviser. She did not know if either student had requested a roommate change.
She defended the university's response to the stabbing, saying a text message alert was sent to students almost immediately after officials learned of what happened.
"It's tragic and I just don't know how it all could have been avoided," she said.
Associated Press writers Ben Nuckols and Brett Zongker in Washington contributed to this report.