Freshman's Location Unknown

Student Was Last Seen at Mount Holyoke College at End of March

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Ryan M. Davis '10, shown here in his driver's license photograph, was declared a missing person by the Massachusetts State Police and the Mt. Holyoke Campus Police department. Davis was apparently forced to withdraw from MIT following his March 15 arrest on three misdemeanor charges and one felony.
Missing persons section of mt. Holyoke Police Dept. Website

A freshman, apparently required to withdraw from MIT as part of a secretive disciplinary process, has been missing for over a week, according to the South Hadley, Mass. Police Department.

Ryan M. Davis '10, a resident of the third floor of East Campus's east parallel, was last seen on March 31 at the Mount Holyoke College campus, according to a missing persons press release.

Davis withdrew from classes on March 13, according to the MIT Registrar's office. His withdrawal followed a March 12 incident in which MIT police deconstructed a chemistry experiment and allegedly found illegal drugs in Davis's room.

Davis's disappearance prompted a statewide search conducted by the Mount Holyoke College Department of Public Safety. The search is being led "primarily by the South Hadley Police Department, state police, and … people who work for the Holyoke state park," said Kevin McCaffrey, associate director of the Mt. Holyoke College Communications Office.

Davis was first reported missing to officers at the Mt. Holyoke College Department of Public Safety, who then "thoroughly searched," the campus, said McCaffrey.

The Department of Public Safety turned the case over to the South Hadley Police Department on Wednesday, April 4.

On Thursday, April 5, the police department interviewed a convenience store clerk who thought she saw Davis on Sunday, April 1, according to an article published in The Republican, a local newspaper. The clerk stated that Davis asked for directions to a section of the Mt. Holyoke Mountain Range.

An article printed in Mount Holyoke News stated that on Tuesday, April 3, officers discovered that someone tried to break into Mt. Holyoke College's Outing Club cabin on Skinner Mountain (part of the Mt. Holyoke range), though it did not appear that the attempt was successful.

According to Lieutenant Steven Parentela of the South Hadley Police, the search for Davis continues.

In addition to searching their campus, Mt. Holyoke College police publicized a missing persons flyer and administrators sent a community-wide e-mail. MIT has currently done nothing similar, and few officials or students seem to be aware of the missing freshman.

Senior Associate Dean for Students Barbara A. Baker was unaware of any search efforts by MIT.

MIT's Chief of Police John DiFava said that Davis was considered missing in Western Massachusetts and that MIT had not filed a missing persons report since procedurally, only one missing persons report is filed per case.

"We don't have the type of search that was going on in Mt. Holyoke — we don't have helicopters and police beating the bushes," said DiFava. "But all our patrols are aware of him, they have pictures of the individual … anybody that knows anything about him will certainly notify us," DiFava said.

Chancellor Phillip L. Clay, however, said MIT did not consider Davis a missing person. "We haven't done anything because as far as I know he isn't, from our point of view, missing," said Clay.

DiFava also said that a detective was in contact with Massachusetts State Troopers and that Detective Jay Perault was in charge of the Davis case. Reached by phone, Perault said he was not in charge of the case, and stated that Lieutenant Albert F. Pierce Jr. and Detective Willard J. Boulter III were covering the case. Neither responded to voice messages.

Davis's disappearance comes less than three weeks after his March 15 arrest on two misdemeanor counts of possession of a class B controlled substance, one misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct, and one felony count of possession of a class B controlled substance with intent to distribute.

According to criminal docket filings obtained by The Tech, Davis's charges stem from an incident at East Campus on Monday, March 12. That evening, Joseph F. Graham Jr., House Manager for East Campus, discovered an unknown container in the basement hobby shop room. The container was plugged into an outlet and was marked with "DO NOT OPEN," and "WARNING CAUSTIC SOLUTION DO NOT TOUCH," according to the legal filings. The device was also generating chlorine gas.

Graham then contacted the campus police, who notified the Cambridge Fire Department, the bomb squad, and MIT's Environment, Health, and Safety Office. Graham suspected that the device belonged to Davis, prompting a detective and an officer to question Davis.

Davis stated that the suspicious device belonged to him and that he was attempting to perform electrolysis of sodium chloride and potassium chloride. A third-party environmental agency was then contracted to remove the device.

During the course of the evening, Davis waived his Miranda rights and consented to a search of his room. During the search, officers discovered a bag of marijuana, 2C-T-7 (a hallucinogen), 5 grams of cocaine, and "several liters" of lysergic acid amide (a hallucinogen similar to LSD). Davis told the detectives that he obtained the cocaine on a recent trip to Colombia, swallowing the bag to pass through border inspections.

MIT police then filed for an arrest warrant with the Cambridge District Court. Davis was arrested on Thursday, March 15, and released on $300 cash bail. In the warrant application, Davis was considered a "flight risk due to his behavior in the past and recent trip to Colombia." The court ordered Davis to surrender his passport by noon on Monday, March 19; it is unclear if he did so. A pre-trial hearing for Davis is scheduled for May 9, 2007.

According to records from the Office of the Registrar, Davis is no longer a registered student. His last official day of attendance was March 13, 2007, one day after the East Campus incident.

Chancellor Clay declined to comment as to whether Davis had been suspended from MIT, however, Detective Perault of the MIT Police stated that Davis "was asked to leave MIT."

Clay did say, however, that he had the power to temporarily suspend students and that permanent judicial decisions came from the Committee on Discipline.

Anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of Davis is urged to contact the South Hadley Police Department at (413) 538-8231.

Court documents regarding Davis's warrant, booking, and criminal docket are available on The Tech's Web site at

Michael McGraw-Herdeg contributed reporting for this article.