NOPD investigates Tulane senior for string of burglaries

NOPD investigates Tulane senior for string of burglaries

Canela López, Associate News Editor

A week ago, Tulane senior Oliver Jerde, better known as “Ollie,” could be seen walking to class like any other Tulane student.

On Thursday, Jan. 21, New Orleans Police Department arrested Jerde for two charges of aggravated burglary and one charge of residential burglary, all in residences occupied Tulane students, according to an NOPD press release. Jerde’s bond was set at $100,000 and a judge ruled the 22-year-old must stay at River Oaks Hospital, a private psychiatric facility, until his first court hearing.

NOPD found Jerde removing items from a home on the 800 block of Pine Street at 3:30 a.m. Thursday, when they responded to a call reporting a person breaking into the house. After he was arrested, the police officers searched his home on the 800 block of Lowerline Street and found items that were reported stolen in robberies reported earlier in the week, two on Jan. 17 on the 1000 and 1200 blocks of Lowerline Street and one on Jan. 18 on the 1100 block of Broadway Street.

In addition to the robberies Jerde was booked with, NOPD reported finding stolen items in his home dating back to the previous Friday.

“After his arrest, through investigations, a search warrant was done back at his residence where there was other property found that had been taken in other home invasions since last Friday,” New Orleans Police Superintendent Michael Harrison said.

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Emma Discher | Senior Staff Photographer

According to an article by The Advocate, one of the victims of the alleged burglaries, who called NOPD Jan. 21, reported a man standing at the foot of her bed while petting her dog at 3:30 am. When officers arrived, the man, later to be identified as Jerde, was found in the street near the residence with a bottle of bourbon in his hand.

Some believed that Jerde was dealing with mental illness throughout the semester.

Jerde and Jesse Benzell, president of Tulane’s branch of the National Alliance for Mental Illness, served together on NAMI’s executive board spring semester 2015 and fall semester 2015.

“I know Ollie was struggling with his mental illness,” Benzell said. “We talked a little bit about it during last semester. I think he was sick. I don’t know if he was getting all the support he needed.”

During winter break, Jerde informed Benzell that he would be stepping down as the club’s vice president for personal reasons.

His family could not be reached for comment.

The news of the robberies came as a surprise to Benzell. He believes Jerde’s mental state may have contributed to the crime.

“I think his mental status was definitely part of it, on every level,” Benzell said.

Jerde was a Tulane senior double majoring in Philosophy and Cognitive Studies with a minor in Russian.

Tulane senior and close friend of Jerde, Larkin McBride, said she urges people to keep in mind that the investigation is still underway.

“Ollie is one of my closest and dearest friends and these allegations come as a shock to those who know and love him,” McBride said. “Right now all we can do is wait for him to be processed through the system.”

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Lily Milwit | Production Manager

NOPD said in a press conference that they appreciated the effort of the citizens, Tulane students, who called the crimes in and would try and do everything in their power to bring justice to the situation.

“We want to thank the citizens for coming forward to call us, having the confidence to call us, knowing that we would get there quick to secure justice and make sure the suspect was arrested,” Harrison said.

Both Tulane University Police Department and Tulane University were unable to give comment in accordance with federal laws regarding ongoing investigations regarding students.

Jerde’s father is world-renowned architect Jon Jerde.

If citizens have any information that can help solve this crime are asked to call Crimestoppers at 822-1111 or toll-free 1-877-903-STOP.

Kate Jamison contributed to the reporting of this article.