Sunday, May 30, 2004

Haglund Murder: Police, embassy not giving up information in killing of US citizen
By Julia Hakobyan and John Hughes, ArmeniaNow reporters

28 May 2004

After a week of investigation, police are not saying if a motive
has been uncovered in the killing of United States citizen Joshua
Haglund. Police are, however, calling the crime "premeditated murder".

Haglund, 33, was found with stab wounds in the backyard of his
Yerevan apartment in the evening of May 17. He died of the wounds
while awaiting emergency medical aid. He is believed to be the first
American to be murdered in Armenia.

The U.S. Embassy has not released any information about Haglund,
who was in Yerevan to teach at the Brusov Linguistic University as
part of a U.S. State Department language fellow program.

He was a native of Minnesota, and was scheduled to return there
next month.

Police are investigating Haglund's personal life, but investigators
and the embassy are being tight lipped about the crime. Meanwhile
rumors swirl, including speculation of a "contract killing", put
out by someone jealous of Haglund's attention toward a certain
girl. Others speculate that it was a "hate crime", carried out by
a person or persons who objected to aspects of Haglund's personal
life. One rumor even has Haglund as a CIA operative and that the
murder took place on the eve of a departure to Iraq.

In any case, ArmeniaNow has learned that the fatal wounds were
consistent with those often inflicted in so-called "crimes of
passion". Typically, that means that the attack is more brutal,
suggesting that the perpetrator has been enraged by some conflict
between the two parties.

A theory that Haglund knew his attacker(s) is supported by evidence
from his apartment, where police found three glasses and a recently
opened bottle of wine. Blood stains were also found in the apartment,
suggesting that the confrontation either started or was entirely
centered in Haglund's home.

Marietta Yeranosyan, who lives in front of the apartment Haglund was
renting, says that the day before the murder there was party at his
home. And when she heard the noises on the day of murder she thought
another party was in progress.

Residents of the building also say that Haglund (who was not fluent
in Armenian) socialized mostly with English-speaking acquaintances.

"We heard several men's loud voices but it was not clear if it was
a quarrel or just talk, as they were speaking English," Yeranosyan
said. "Then his door opened as if people left."

Yeranosyan says her husband was coming home around that time and saw
two men quickly running in different directions.

Yeranosyan believes that Haglund might have been pursuing his
attacker(s) when he collapsed in the yard, around 10:30 p.m.

Elmira Harutyunyan, a neighbor, says Haglund was alive when she and
others found him.

"He was trying to say something, but no one understood it, because he
was speaking English. Then it seemed he showed 'three' with fingers
and died," she says.

Though known in the expatriate community, Haglund's American
acquaintances are not commenting publicly on the murder, saying
that they are under obligation to restrict comments to the police

It is believed that in the hours before his murder, Haglund visited
the Wheel Club, a restaurant and bar popular among expats on the
opposite end of the street where Haglund's apartment was located.

Haglund's social life in Armenia included association with members of
Armenia's gay community. One theory being advanced is that he became
a victim of a "hate crime" based on that association.

Last Sunday, about 100 mourners attended a memorial service for
Haglund at the American University of Armenia.

"I was fascinated with his sensibility and sense of humor. We share
everything, good and bad," said Amelia Weir, a friend who spoke to
the assembly. "Something that struck me - he was fully present in
this life. He wanted us to be dedicated to what we do."

Haglund had finished the semester's lectures at Brusov on the morning
of his murder. His students (though reluctant to give their full names)
characterize him as a kind and respected professor.

"We all were shocked when we learned what happened," says Silva,
a third-year student of the University. "We completed his course
'Speaking Skills'. We said goodbye to each other and a few days later
learned he was killed."

"He was a very qualified professor," says Arevik, another student. "His
lessons were interesting, he was polite with everyone and never
offended any of us."

His hometown newspaper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune
( reported that Haglund had lived for extended
periods in Japan, India and Puerto Rico.

His mother, Maxine Haglund-Blommer, told the newspaper that her son
had been offered a job in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, and that
he would relocate there after visiting Minnesota.

She said Haglund told her he would take the job in UAE, after which
he would move back to the States to live near his family.

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