Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
The Swarthmore Borough Police has opened an official missing persons investigation into the whereabouts of Swarthmore student Matthew Baldwin ’10. Dean of Students Jim Larimore informed the Swarthmore College community of this at 11:03am today through an e-mail, writing, “I regret to inform you of some worrisome news. Swarthmore Borough Police have issued a missing persons alert and are seeking assistance in locating a student. Matthew Baldwin ’10, age 21.”
According to Swarthmore Borough Police Chief Brian Craig, the most up-to-date information places the last known communication with Baldwin at 1:00am Monday morning. Craig noted that all known, recent communications Baldwin had had were “positive,” but that neither friends nor family had heard from him since. His last known physical whereabouts, according to Swarthmore College Director of Public Safety Owen Redgrave, was “Sunday at the Ben West House.”
Redgrave said that Public Safety “has searched all of campus, outside and buildings, basements and out-of-the-way places,” and indicated that both the college staff and the “Providence police who border the other side of the Crum” have been notified of the investigation.
The College was first alerted on Tuesday at 1:00pm by a concerned friend of Baldwin’s. Public Safety and the Deans Office proceeded to speak with Baldwin’s RA, called his number, checked his college electronic footprint (library and dining hall access), and checked with his classes and professors. That night, after finding no indication that he was on campus or had made recent contact with anyone, the College brought the information to the police.
“[The situation] is pretty much a mystery. Theories abound. There is nothing definitive,” Redgrave said. “ITS is still trying to get more information from [Baldwin’s] computer.”
However, according to Craig, as of approximately 5:00pm, Swarthmore Police Sergeant Raymond Stufflet was out with a tracker dog “to see if [it] can pick up the scent of [Baldwin] anywhere in the Crum Woods.” Craig cautioned that this was to investigate only one of many possibilities; he further said that information will be disseminated “to all we can tell it to” if anything is revealed from the woods search.
“We’re trying to determine what was taken from [Baldwin’s] room, and what was left in his room as indications if he was prepared for the weather or may have even been prepared to take a trip of some sort,” Craig said.
Craig further said that, “The information we have right now indicates that the student enjoyed going off by himself and being in nature, and was impressed with the [landscape] scenes of the newly fallen snow.”
While no possibility is yet off the table, Craig indicated that the police are currently doubtful that anything like abduction took place, saying that none of the “classical signs” of abduction were present. “Things in his room were too well ordered for kidnapping, [he] apparently had left messages for people – so that’s not under consideration. Basically, any self-determined actions are all on the table at this point,” Craig said.
In an e-mail to the Gazette, Larimore wrote that the Deans Office would “provide [situation] updates as the situation warrants, balancing the community’s need to know with the student’s privacy.”
In his e-mail, Larimore also expressed appreciation for the assistance a number of students have provided on the case since his e-mail announcement this morning. Craig and Larimore both urged for anyone who thinks they may have information relevant to Baldwin’s disappearance to call either 911 or Public Safety (610-328-8333) at any hour.
“We’re picking up little bits and pieces of information all the time. We have probably changed [investigative] direction three times today. Everyone is trying to deal with this as best we can,” Craig said. “Our primary concern right now is for the safety of the student.”