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Slain Quincy College professor ‘wanted others to succeed’

Police were at the scene Saturday in Plymouth where Vibeke Rasmussen’s body was found. Debee Tlumacki for the Boston Globe

The daughter of a 76-year-old Quincy College professor who was stabbed to death in her Plymouth apartment remembered her mother on Sunday as “an amazing human being,” as authorities continued searching for any sign of her alleged killer.

“She was very much a strong Christian,” said Kristine Jelstrup, the daughter of Vibeke Rasmussen. “She was a foster mother to, over the years, at least 20 kids. She was just this person who wanted other people to succeed and did anything that she could to help them.”

Jelstrup, 53, of Cambridge, spoke to the Globe in a phone interview two days after police found the body of Rasmussen, a native of Denmark and retired chiropractor, in her apartment on Tideview Path in Plymouth. She had suffered dozens of stab wounds to her face, neck, and shoulders, police said.

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State Police continued searching Sunday for the suspect in the crime, Tyler Hagmaier, a 24-year-old man with a history of mental illness who lived across the hall from Rasmussen.

Vibeke Rasmussen, 76.

His abandoned Prius was found Friday evening on the French King Bridge, which spans the Connecticut River in Gill, in the northwestern part of Massachusetts, Plymouth District Attorney Timothy J. Cruz has said.

David Procopio, a State Police spokesman, said weather conditions, including a swift current, made it too dangerous for divers to enter the water on Saturday and Sunday, so they searched for Hagmaier’s body from boats with sonar tools. Nothing was found Sunday, he said, and investigators were considering whether they would return Monday.

A spokeswoman for Cruz said Sunday that there was still no word on a motive. Cruz has warned people not to approach Hagmaier if they see him, describing him as “highly dangerous.”

Bethany Hagmaier, 35, of Dalton, who is married to Hagmaier’s cousin, said Sunday evening that she has not spoken with him in years, and that she had no information about any mental health problems he may have dealt with.

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She said she learned about the murder investigation on Sunday.

“It’s devastating,” Hagmaier said. “It’s devastating all around. . . . Very sad to hear.”

Attempts to reach additional relatives of Hagmaier in western Massachusetts and Virginia were unsuccessful.

Rasmussen’s family said Sunday that she had never mentioned Hagmaier, and they had no reason to believe she was at risk.

“She was very trusting,” Jelstrup said. “She lived in a very nice little building. They all knew each other.”

Jelstrup also provided details about her mother’s background and how she came to live and work in the United States.

Initially, Jelstrup said, her mother traveled to Connecticut from Denmark, as a teenager with the American Field Service, a cultural exchange program.

“She loved America so much” that she later packed her bags and came here to stay, Jelstrup said, adding that her mother became a highly regarded chiropractor who practiced for about 25 years in Indianapolis.

After retiring, Rasmussen followed Jelstrup and her husband, John MacGibbon, to Massachusetts, and she began teaching at Quincy College after she inquired about studying there to obtain a certificate in phlebotomy.

The dean asked Rasmussen if she would like to teach, once the school learned she had a doctorate, Jelstrup said.

“She was an amazing teacher at Quincy College,” Jelstrup said. “They just drew so much inspiration from her.”

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A number of Rasmussen’s students have praised her for her engaging teaching style and warmth, including Heather Lynch, 25, who told the Globe on Saturday that Rasmussen was “very much into bringing real life into what we were learning.”

“She was so personable. Going to class wasn’t boring,” Lynch said. “She was so vibrant.”

Indeed, Jelstrup said on Sunday that her mother lived an active lifestyle and was a devoted grandmother to two grandsons.

“She was always riding her bicycle at 76,” Jelstrup said. “She was very healthy. She had a full life ahead of her.”

Jelstrup said her mother worshiped at a Presbyterian church in Barnstable, obtained a real estate license at one point, and had a brief stint as a bus driver one summer on Martha’s Vineyard, simply because it seemed like fun.

“She just had a fabulous time,” Jelstrup said.

Plymouth Police Chief Michael E. Botieri told reporters Saturday that Hagmaier has a history of threatening to commit suicide, prompting calls to police for help, and that officers once fired a bean-bag round to disarm him of a knife that he intended to use to hurt himself.

However, local police have never arrested Hagmaier.

Tyler Hagmaier, 24, is suspected in the kiling of Vibeke Rasmussen.Debee Tlumacki for The Boston Globe

Little information has been released publicly about him, though a spokeswoman for the nearby Mirbeau Inn & Spa at The Pinehills confirmed over the weekend that he worked there for a time before leaving last December, of his own accord.

The spa has declined to comment on his job responsibilities.

On a Facebook page attributed to Hagmaier, he listed his occupation as “whatever they tell me to do” at the spa, and he also said he had attended Plymouth South High School.

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Plymouth Schools Superintendent Gary E. Maestas said in an e-mail that Hagmaier “was a student in Plymouth and I am sorry but that is all I can comment on.”

Hagmaier also wrote on his Facebook page that he traveled widely, including stops in the Dominican Republic, Nova Scotia, Hawaii, Oregon, and South Carolina. He posted several photographs of himself smiling and joking with friends.

Authorities have said witnesses heard a splash around the same time police found Hagmaier’s vehicle near the Connecticut River, but they have been unable to determine whether he jumped into the body of water, which typically has a swift current during the springtime.

As the search for Hagmaier, and answers, continued on Mother’s Day, Jelstrup recalled her slain mother’s passion for life.

“She just had a can-do attitude — ‘what’s the next adventure?’ ” Jelstrup said. “She was amazing that way.”


Globe correspondent Alexandra Koktsidis and Laura Crimaldi of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. Nicole Fleming can be reached at nicole.fleming@globe.com.