SEATTLE – A woman staffer who died in a murder-suicide at her University of Washington office could have been moved to a different building or assigned heavier police patrols had officials followed school policies, an administrator says.
Instead, University Police and Rebecca Griego's superiors in the College of Architecture failed to report her pleas for help to a high-level university safety team that was created after a murder-suicide on campus seven years ago, said Mindy Kornberg, university human resources vice president.
"Our hearts truly go out to the family and this is a horrible tragedy, and we really are looking to learn from this," Kornberg told The Seattle Times. "We hope this never happens again."
No reprimands or other disciplinary actions are likely, university relations vice president Norman G. Arkans told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
"You cannot reduce risk to zero," Arkans said. "You can take steps to reduce risk."
University employees who failed to act "were doing the best they thought they could do to help this very valued colleague," he said. "You know, hindsight is perfect."
On Thursday school officials announced the formation of a scholarship fund in memory of Griego, 26, who was killed Monday morning by her former boyfriend, Jonathan Rowan, 41. He then committed suicide.
Colleagues said Griego had been taking drastic measures to avoid Rowan in the months before she was killed, including moving and changing her cellular tele phone number.
In a March 7 e-mail to co-workers at the university's Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, Griego said she was having a "serious stalker issue."
She included photos and a description of Rowan and said the only places he could find her were at her sister's home or at her university office -- the same office where she was killed.
Griego had previously filed for a protection order against Rowan, complaining of threats and violence. University police said Griego also had reported that Rowan had called her at work with death threats.
It's unclear why neither police nor academic officials followed procedures for notifying the university's human resources department about Griego's complaints, Kornberg said.
If they had been told about the situation, human resources officials could have mobilized the school's workplace violence prevention assessment team.
That team could have developed a plan to reduce risks to Griego's safety, including moving her, changing her phone number, or beefing up police patrols, Kornberg said.
Ray Wittmier, the university's assistant police chief, said he was unsure why police didn't notify human resources or its own representative on the violence prevention team about Griego's complaints.
"We don't have any more information on that," Wittmier told The Times. In the aftermath of Griego's death, he said one positive outcome could be "that more people attend workplace violence prevention training so they have a better idea of what to do when situations like this come up."
Griego's supervisor at the Runstad Center, professor Jim DeLisle, did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Associated Press on Thursday.