Students Confess in Clock Case
Pair Admits Stealing Healy Tower Hands
Published: Friday, October 14, 2005
Updated: Wednesday, January 19, 2011 00:01
Two students confessed last Friday to stealing the hands of Healy Hall's westward-facing clock, bringing a two-week Department of Public Safety investigation to a close.
Andrew Hamblen (SFS '07) and Wyatt Gjullin (COL '09) admitted taking the hands after DPS officials questioned them about the theft last week. One of Hamblen's roommates turned in the hands the day before they admitted their involvement in the incident.
Campus safety officials, who declined to confirm the students' names, said that they have been referred to the Office of Student Conduct. The hands were undamaged and can be reattached to the clock, DPS Director Darryl Harrison said.
Harrison said that the two students had used temporary scaffolding erected on the west side of Healy Hall to access the building. Additional enhancements have been made to the building to prevent such incidents in the future, he added.
The identification of the students responsible for the theft concluded an intensive DPS investigation and a period of heightened campus interest in the incident, which Hamblen and Gjullin said was an attempt to revive an old Georgetown tradition. Students have attempted to climb Healy's clock tower and take the hands for several decades, although the hands have only been stolen on two other occasions in the past 11 years.
Gjullin said that he learned of the tradition during his first week on campus. He and Hamblen climbed up the scaffolding and entered a window on Healy's fifth floor that was already broken, he said.
Once inside, the two climbed through preexisting holes in the building's sheetrock ceiling to reach the clock tower, he added.
"It was just two buddies, it wasn't malicious at all," Gjullin said. "We had no intention of keeping the hands."
Hamblen also said he wanted to take the hands as part of a prank, not a criminal act.
"When I learned of the tradition of stealing the Healy clock hands freshman year and reading various publications about the history associated with the tower, I decided that I eventually wanted to contribute to the survival of the tradition before I graduated," he said. "I intended no destruction or ill-will to the university in taking the hands, simply to contribute to one aspect of what makes this a special place."
Matt Bjonerud (MSB '07), who lives with Hamblen but was not involved in the theft, said he decided to turn in the hands to DPS after learning that Hamblen and Gjullin were trying to find a way to return them anonymously.
Hamblen and Gjullin "were just going to put them on campus and give the DPS officers an anonymous tip," Bjonerud said. "I thought that was kind of stupid, so I brought them in."
Bjonerud said he is currently facing university disciplinary charges of withholding evidence, because he would not identify Hamblen and Gjullin to DPS officials.
David Morrell, vice president for university safety, said that DPS was able to independently obtain the students' names during the course of the investigation.
"DPS was able to identify the individuals responsible, did in fact reach out to the two students, and request that they respond to DPS for questioning, and they did," Morrell said. "It was a great investigation by DPS. I know this is a tradition for students, but it can also be dangerous given the possibility of falling off the scaffold."
Bjonerud said that DPS officials were already focusing their investigation on Hamblen and Gjullin when he turned the hands in.
"They had a pretty good idea of what had happened," he said.
Hamblen and Gjullin denied being the source of several e-mails received last week by THE HOYA from individuals claiming to be the thieves. The e-mailers said they were a group of four upperclassmen who entered the tower through several locked doors, and included a number of digital photographs of the clock tower's interior and the hands.
University safety officials declined to comment further on the case yesterday. Hamblen and Gjullin also declined further comment, because of pending disciplinary action against them.
Theft of items worth less than $500 is a Category B violation of the Student Code of Conduct, carrying sanctions ranging from probation to academic suspension.