For over half a century, Harvard students have been telling each other the same story.
The haunting tale has been passed down from generation to generation, from sophomore to freshman. It's the kind of story that's whispered to an enthralled audience after a long night of drinking, a cautionary tale, an urban legend, a tragic incident the sparks both fear and intrigue in the minds of everyone who hears it.
Most students who attend the affluent, Ivy League university have heard some variation of it: In the late 1960s, a young, female graduate anthropology student was found bludgeoned to death in her dorm room. While the story always differed slightly depending on who was telling it, the rumour was that shortly before her death; the student had an affair with her professor while they worked together on a dig in Iran.
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When they arrived back at Harvard, she wanted the affair to continue, and he didn't. During a heated exchange, he picked up an archaeological stone tool and hit her with it. Some said this happened in the Peabody Museum, others said the professor's office, while others said it happened in her own dorm room. There were also rumours of some sort of ritual performed on the body - three necklaces from the Iran dig placed around her neck, cigarette burns scorched into the flesh of her stomach depicting an ancient symbol, a handful of red ochre powder sprinkled over her lifeless body.
According to the rumours, the professor was never charged for the murder. It was said Harvard hushed the media coverage of the event and the professor continued to work at the university for over four more decades.
Becky Cooper first heard the story in 2009, when she was a junior at Harvard. Instead of just passing it on to another bewildered freshman, Cooper decided to look into the alleged murder. She later wrote about her investigation in her book, We Keep the Dead Close: A Murder at Harvard and a Half Century of Silence.
After some digging, Cooper discovered there was some truth to the rumours.
On the morning of January 7, 1969, Harvard's anthropology graduate students had gathered to take their general examination. But one student was missing.
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