This story was originally written for Professor Jon Marcus’ Advanced Journalism class, with contributors Dominique Alba, Jiah Park, Elizabeth Pehota, Michael Pescuma, and Sylvia Waghorn.
After pleading guilty to setting fires in Stokes and Gasson Halls, student Kevin Yue cannot be found.
A year after setting three fires on the Boston College campus, the international student who pleaded guilty to the crime has violated his probation and disappeared, court documents show.
Pengliang “Kevin” Yue, who is from China, has been missing since April and has also failed to pay most of the $63,591 in restitution ordered by a judge, according to Yue’s records.
A spokeswoman for the state probation office, Coria Holland, said she didn’t know if Yue had been given back his passport, which he surrendered when he was released on bail.
If he is caught, said Holland, Yue’s fate will be up to a judge.
Yue pleaded guilty to using a lighter to set two wooden chairs on fire in Gasson Hall, then torching stacks of paper, a chair and a desk on different floors in Stokes Hall on Nov. 9, 2013. He later admitted that, before he set the fires, he had been drinking beer and shots of vodka, got angry when other students called him names, and twice missed the campus shuttle bus between 9:46 and 9:59 on that cold Saturday night.
Police records in the court file on the case show that investigators later tracked Yue’s movements using undisclosed “technical” as well as human sources that gave them “his exact actions and at specific times,” which contradicted what he previously told them.
Boston College Police Department Sergeant David Flaherty, who made the arrest and wrote the report, said the department would not disclose how it caught Yue.
“These are confidential university matters that as a matter of practice are not publicly discussed once the case is concluded,” Flaherty said.
University spokesman Jack Dunn also declined to comment.
Students questioned about that night said they had no idea how the police learned they were in Stokes Hall at the time.
“I’m not at all sure how they knew I was in the building,” said one, John Stathopoulos, A&S ‘16.
Said another, Alessandra Scorzella, A&S ‘17: “They somehow found out everyone that was in the building at the time of the fire.”
Yue’s court documents shed light on other unreported details of the case.
For example, Yue was brought in once for questioning a few days after the crime and again about two weeks later. That day, after two hours of questioning—confronted with those unspecified details of his movements—he confessed. Then he asked for a cheeseburger and fries, which BCPD officers provided.
He was convicted in Newton District Court of four counts of wanton destruction of property and one count of disorderly conduct. Yue was ordered to stay away from BC property and undergo counseling.
Yue’s attorney, Michelle Menken, said she would not comment on her missing client’s case. Yue’s cell phone still rang but went unanswered. So did the doorbell at his last known address, an 863-square-foot, two-bedroom apartment on Commonwealth Ave.
“He was a very quiet, reserved, respectful kid,” said Tom Cerulli, operations manager for Lyons Dining Services and Yue’s boss. “I remember when I found out. I was, like, ‘Kevin, really?’ It was shocking and no one expected that he would do something like that.”
Featured Image by Alex Gaynor / Heights Senior Staff