The Devil Next Door

The chilling story of Doug Havard, SMU'S Crime Boss

Before anything could happen, though, Havard jumped bond and disappeared, building a legend in his wake. It would take two years for authorities to catch up with him. Arrested in England in June, Havard now faces numerous criminal charges in the U.K. and the United States, including identity theft, credit card theft, counterfeiting and drug trafficking. He has never been charged with sexual assault. "I can tell you Doug Havard categorically denies that ever occurred," says Kevin Clancy, his Dallas attorney.

In 2003 Meghan filed a lawsuit against SMU for failing to provide adequate security, failing to conduct a background check on Havard and allowing his criminal activity to continue after the school learned about it.

James E. Caswell, vice president for Student Affairs at SMU, calls Havard a "very unusual, crafty and sophisticated individual who slipped through the cracks." But Meghan's lawsuit raises issues relevant for all parents of college students. Students must answer a question on some college applications about criminal convictions, but who checks? What if the student has been charged with a serious crime but not yet convicted? What is the school's responsibility when a student is suspected of committing crimes while living in a residence hall?

Perkins Hall was supposed to be the quiet, studious dorm. But one former resident says, "It was probably the craziest bunch of people."
Mark Graham
Perkins Hall was supposed to be the quiet, studious dorm. But one former resident says, "It was probably the craziest bunch of people."
Perkins Hall Room 205, Doug Havard's old room. He'd turned it into a high-tech factory for fake drivers licenses.
Mike And Nikki Simmons
Perkins Hall Room 205, Doug Havard's old room. He'd turned it into a high-tech factory for fake drivers licenses.

What happens when the boy next door turns out to be Doug Havard?

"Because I Can"

A bit nervous, Meghan stood before a blue felt backdrop. "Don't smile," Doug Havard said. He clicked his digital camera. On a form, she filled out her name, address and signature--everything accurate except the date of birth--and handed over $175.

In September 2001, like most of the other underage residents of Perkins, Meghan had decided it was time to grow up--two years, to be precise.

Meghan had turned 19 on September 19. With a Texas drivers license that showed her age as 21, Meghan could go to clubs with dorm-mates who'd already made the pilgrimage to Havard's room.

The 25 or 30 residents of Perkins' second floor soon bonded. "We were all friends on the second floor," says Alison Elrod, who now attends a different school. "We would go out and get piercings together. We would leave doors open, and people would walk in and out."

Meghan quickly met everyone--except Havard, who stood out because he didn't fit either of the SMU male stereotypes: the dude in Abercrombie & Fitch and flip-flops who looks like he just rolled out of bed, or the metrosexual in Versace sunglasses behind the wheel of a BMW. Havard was reserved, not particularly attractive, a nerd.

"He kept to himself," Meghan says.

Some people thought he was plain anti-social. "Initially, I thought Doug was this geeky kid who was awkward all the time," says Phillip, a current SMU student who asked that his last name not be used. "He kind of tried to impress people; he cultivated an air of mystery."

Havard's typical garb--polo shirt and Levis--blended into the landscape, as did his car: a black Pontiac Grand Prix with dark-tinted windows. Most students at SMU wouldn't be caught dead driving something so déclassé, not if they had money. And Havard had lots of it. He boasted to Meghan that he always carried $6,000 to $21,000 in cash. Whenever the dorm ordered pizza, Havard peeled off a few bills to pay.

If Havard exuded a strange mixture of bravado and indifference, with the help of his cash, dorm residents warmed up to him. But students found it odd that when everyone was hanging out and his cell phone rang, Havard left the room to talk. And his cell phone rang constantly.

Havard had first gotten involved in illegal schemes while enrolled at the exclusive Winston School in North Dallas. He sold drugs, guns and stolen electronics and engaged in inventive credit card frauds--all while making $60,000 to $80,000 a year working for his father.

In high school, Havard craved the attention, the notoriety. At SMU he had to re-establish himself in the pecking order. Playing the upper-crust gangsta was Havard's way of being Big Man on Campus.

Havard had applied to SMU and Harvard University using the Common School Application, which does not ask about arrests or convictions. And up to that point, he'd never been arrested. (The SMU application--which Havard didn't fill out--asks about convictions.) Harvard rejected him, but SMU informed Havard that he'd been accepted in February 2001, about the same time his inner thug burst to the surface.

On February 2, 2001, police allege, Havard and two buddies--wielding guns and wearing body armor--crept into the Richardson condo of a drug dealer named Pee Wee who'd stiffed them with fake Ecstasy. They surprised Pee Wee in bed. When he didn't hand over their cash, one of Havard's associates pistol-whipped him. Havard, calling the shots, put a stop to the beating and sent his buddy to their car for duct tape, saying they'd "torture" Pee Wee until he paid up. But, after seeing police drive up, the buddy fled, leaving Havard and his other associate to be arrested.

All three were later charged with aggravated robbery. In the fall of 2001, Havard was scheduled to go to trial and faced five to 15 years in prison if convicted. For the first time, Havard faced serious consequences for his behavior. But he bragged to friends that his hotshot defense attorney Clancy, who'd successfully represented the Dallas Cowboys' Michael Irvin, would get him off.

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