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Suspect in Plymouth professor’s slaying wrote confession note

Tyler Hagmaier was accused of killing a college professor in Plymouth on May 5.Copy photo

PLYMOUTH — Before Tyler Hagmaier was last seen the night of May 6 leaving his mother’s home in Montague, he wrote a note to “everyone.” He reportedly confessed to killing his 76-year-old neighbor and said he didn’t know why he did it.

The confession was among six notes tucked in a green, spiral notebook his mother found two days after Hagmaier, 24, allegedly stabbed Vibeke Rasmussen inside her Plymouth apartment about 11 p.m. May 5, court records show.

The next day, investigators say, Hagmaier may have committed suicide by jumping into the Connecticut River from the French King Bridge, a place where he had attempted to kill himself before, according to an affidavit filed in Plymouth District Court.


State Police Trooper Joseph J. Folloni described Hagmaier’s confession in the affidavit.

“Hagmaier had blacked out the previous evening, planned to end his life, but for some reason made a decision to murder his neighbor in apartment 6,” Folloni wrote.

Hagmaier “made some reference to not even knowing his neighbor, not having anything against her and not knowing why he killed her,” the affidavit said.

In another note, Hagmaier wrote that during his last inpatient treatment program for drugs and alcohol, he made a vow to commit suicide if he ever drank again, the affidavit said.

On Tuesday, Gill Police Chief David Hastings said Hagmaier’s body may have been found the day before in the Connecticut River. The Plymouth district attorney’s office, which is investigating Rasmussen’s murder, is waiting for the state medical examiner to identify the body, a spokeswoman said.

Rasmussen’s daughter said Tuesday in a telephone interview her mother was a victim of a broken mental health care system.

“He wasn’t evil. He wasn’t bad,” Kristine Jelstrup said. “He was mentally ill, and he didn’t get the help he needed.”


Folloni wrote that Hagmaier had a history of suicide attempts. His father had killed himself a few years ago and instructed Hagmaier to do the same, the affidavit said.

In January, Hagmaier told Plymouth officers he’d been suicidal since he was 14. Police encountered him during a suicide attempt and used a Taser and a bean-bag round to subdue him, Folloni wrote, citing Plymouth police records.

Jelstrup said Rasmussen, a grandmother who taught at Quincy College’s Plymouth campus, won’t be the last person to die at the hands of a mentally ill person.

“We live in a society that won’t pay for health care and certainly doesn’t want to have anything to do with mental health care,” Jelstrup said. “It’s just going to continue until we do something about it.”

Last week, a Plymouth County grand jury indicted Hagmaier in the murder of Rasmussen, a native of Denmark.

Rasmussen’s body was found after she did not report to work May 6, the affidavit said.

Hagmaier had moved into the Tideview Path apartment across from Rasmussen’s unit in April after leaving a drug and alcohol treatment program, the affidavit said.

Folloni said the assault on Rasmussen occurred after she was “surprised while in her bed,” he wrote.

After the attack, Hagmaier washed his hands in Rasmussen’s tub, using a washcloth, and returned to his apartment, 10 to 12 feet away, the affidavit said.

A former girlfriend, Amanda Hibbard, told investigators she had been texting with Hagmaier before Rasmussen was attacked, but he stopped returning messages midconversation.


The next morning, Hagmaier told her he had fallen asleep early after spending hours watching “The Walking Dead,” a TV drama about zombies, the affidavit said.

About 11:30 a.m., Hagmaier told Hibbard he was planning to get lunch and at 2 p.m., he told her he planned to take a nap, Folloni wrote.

Four hours later, Hagmaier’s mother, Heidi Flaherty, telephoned Hibbard, saying she was headed to Plymouth but became worried and reversed course when she could not reach her son, the affidavit said.

Flaherty drove to the French King Bridge because Hagmaier had tried to commit suicide there before and found her son in his car, Folloni wrote. She persuaded him to return to her home in Montague and go to bed, the affidavit said.

At the house, Hagmaier told his mother “he was a bad person and should be dead.” About 8:30 p.m., a Plymouth police detective called Flaherty and told her officers would be going to Montague to speak with Hagmaier, Folloni wrote.

Minutes later, Flaherty called the detective back and said Hagmaier had just left her house and “was going to kill himself,” the affidavit said. At 9:03 p.m., Hagmaier’s cellphone signal was bouncing off a tower near the French King Bridge, Folloni wrote.

Reached Tuesday, Flaherty declined to comment. Hibbard, the former girlfriend, did not return messages and no one answered the door at her Plymouth home.

Hagmaier’s grandparents said he had lived with them for 6½ years in Plymouth before moving to Tideview Path. Until the attack on Rasmussen, the only person he’d hurt, they said, was himself.


His grandmother, Diane Flaherty, said her family is “deeply, deeply sorrowful” over Rasmussen’s death.

“We’re all bereft,” she said.

The Globe reported last month that Hagmaier moved in with his grandparents after he was charged with stabbing a neighbor in Montague in 2011. A charge of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon was dismissed after he completed two years of probation, court records show.

Jelstrup said her mother was in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”

“I don’t see him as a hardened criminal. I see him as psychotic,” she said. “I just wish we could do a better job of helping our mentally ill in this country.”

John R. Ellement of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi.