The Devil Next Door
The moment Meghan Bodson walked into her dorm room at Southern Methodist University, she felt as if she'd entered her fantasy: red brick, ivy, the high ceiling and tall window overlooking Perkins Chapel, a campus so picturesque it looked like a movie set of the perfect university.
SMU, in fact, was the only place she ever wanted to go. As a senior at Elkins High in Missouri City, Texas, Meghan had refused to apply to any other school.
The Bodsons had driven from Houston in two cars loaded with Meghan's stuff in August 2001. Bruce, an environmental lawyer, and his wife, Judy, who works for an interior design firm, were delighted when SMU accepted their only child. Though tuition, room and board for her freshman year totaled about $28,000, a stretch for them, seeing Meghan get her wish was more than gratifying.
Meghan, 18, had signed up for Perkins Hall after receiving a brochure describing it as a new concept: a "living & learning" community where "Hilltop Scholars" attend several classes together in a dorm classroom. Open to freshmen who scored at least 500 on the SAT Verbal, with fewer than 100 residents, Perkins promised a close-knit atmosphere.
"Several hall staff members live and work in the hall, including the Hall Director, Resident Assistants, a Learning Enhancement Assistant and upper-class PLC Mentors," the brochure said. Only students with magnetic swipe cards could enter the dorm.
It seemed perfect for Meghan, a petite strawberry blonde described by other students as sweet and a bit sheltered. "They were going to be looking out for kids who weren't adjusting well or having trouble in class," Judy says. "It seemed like it was going to be an extra blanket of protection."
SMU worked hard to sooth protective parents' fears. During summer orientation week, Judy had listened to deans and SMU police Captain Tommy Jones describe the campus as security-conscious, with fewer of the problems that plague big universities, such as drug dealing, sexual assaults and theft.
"Captain Jones told us he had a real police department," Judy says, "and he was very adamant: 'Don't go outside SMU when you have a problem. Come to us.' I was thrilled. I thought, 'This gets better and better.'"
Then a male student--"tall, with bad posture"--raised his hand to ask what officers did to students caught using phony drivers licenses to buy alcohol. Captain Jones lifted a wastebasket stuffed with confiscated IDs.
"Everybody laughed," Judy says. "They just take them away."
The Bodsons later learned that the student who'd asked the question was Doug Havard, son of a successful Dallas entrepreneur. As the Bodsons stowed their daughter's belongings in her room on Perkins' second floor, Judy noticed the same hulking young man schlepping his things into room 205 down the hall.
Judy got a bit weepy when she kissed Meghan goodbye. But she and her husband drove home feeling that Meghan was in safe hands, that she was surrounded by good kids from solid families.
They certainly had no idea that Meghan's slouching dorm-mate was at that moment under indictment for aggravated robbery. Or that he would turn Perkins Hall into Crime Central. That many of those "good" SMU kids would be sucked into it.
And that he'd turn Meghan Bodson's life into a hell of fear and depression from which she hasn't recovered today.
In August 2001, Meghan Bodson and Doug Havard--both 18-year-old college freshmen--were at dramatic turning points in their lives. Living on her own for the first time, Meghan threw herself into SMU, making friends and reveling in the school her grandfather recalled in glowing terms. Like most freshmen, Meghan was trying to decide what to do with her life.
Havard--intelligent, rich and educated at a private school--was already deep in his descent into a gangsta fantasy of drugs, thugs and ingenious scams, a fast-paced thriller with him as the star. "I liken the kid to the guy in the movie Catch Me If You Can," says an undercover cop who spent months chasing Havard.
In high school, Havard had survived brushes with the law. But this time, he was facing such serious legal problems that his parents couldn't bail him out as they had in the past. (Glenna Whitley first wrote about Havard in her December 26, 2002, cover story, "Crazy White Mother.")
One kid headed for independence, the other for possible incarceration, Meghan and Havard would become each other's nemesis. Havard became the serpent in Meghan's co-ed Garden of Eden: weirdly seductive without being sexual, tantalizing and terrifying at the same time.
Instead of Meghan's safe haven, Perkins became the headquarters of a campus crime ring spearheaded by Havard, dealing in fake drivers licenses, weed, pills and stolen electronics. By early October, most students living on the second floor of Perkins were either buying from Havard or working for him.
Pulled into Havard's orbit, Meghan awoke one night around Halloween after a party to find herself in his bed. Believing she'd been drugged and sexually assaulted, Meghan blew the whistle on his operation--and her friends--ending up in the middle of an undercover investigation into Havard's activities.
Though SMU police kept promising the Bodsons her antagonist would be kicked out of school "any day," Havard remained in Perkins more than three months after the alleged assault, a watchful, sinister presence, slithering through various snares set for him by authorities. Finally busted, Havard targeted Meghan and her family for retribution, according to SMU police reports.
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?
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.
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.
So instead of keeping his head down and working through his legal problems, Havard hit SMU and created a scheme that would eclipse all the others: selling high-quality fake drivers licenses.
The "Hilltop Scholars" would debate the issue among themselves. Having a counterfeit ID wasn't really wrong, they reasoned. Drinking in college was a rite of passage. If they got caught, the police would just confiscate the fakes.
Meghan, however, was nervous. "My dad's an attorney," she says. "If I got arrested, he'd leave me in jail." By early September, when only a few holdouts in Perkins didn't have fake IDs, Meghan and Rachel, her new best friend, inquired about Havard's product.
Low-key but proud, Havard promised the IDs were "next to perfect," and the magnetic strip on the back would even "scan" if swiped.
Meghan scraped together $175 and knocked on his door.
Havard's room had space for a sofa and two twin beds. Since he had no roommate, Havard also had two closets at his disposal. Meghan noticed that the room was stuffed with electronics: In addition to several computers, Havard had a huge flat-screen TV, camera equipment, a scanner, a printer and, in the closets, VCRs and PlayStations, still boxed.
Explaining that he'd bought a special printer from Europe and templates for both Texas and California licenses off the Internet, Havard draped the blue felt backdrop over his closet door. After taking Meghan's picture, he showed it on the screen of his computer against the Texas template. Later, he would input her information along with bar code information from a stolen license.
One "co-worker" would later describe Havard's operation to SMU police: Havard or a crony would do the digital work on a Dell 8000 series laptop computer, "with a removable USB hard drive with a strong encryption program to protect the data. He also had a magnetic encoder." The license templates were on a removable hard drive that could be disposed of fast with a program called "Best Crypt," which used a free but powerful encryption scheme called "Blowfish." The licenses would be printed and "sanded" off-campus. Havard carried around a stainless steel clipboard that opened up and contained forms for customers to fill out.
A day or two later, Havard gave Meghan and several other girls their IDs. "It looked very much like my real license," Meghan says. "He was pretty confident about his product." The girls tested the licenses at a liquor store: They worked just fine.
Through October, Meghan's phone calls home were enthusiastic. She and her roommate got along well, often doing things with the girls across the hall, Rachel and her roommate.
"We had a lot in common," says Rachel, self-acknowledged "gossip queen" of Perkins. "Meghan wasn't wild, but she had a fun side." Havard started hanging out with Meghan and her friends. To some it looked like Havard was sweet on Meghan, but he didn't ask her out. Ironically, the budding crime boss seemed insecure around women.
Meghan says Havard delighted in gaming the system, even for small change; he regaled listeners with his discovery of how to program swipe cards so he could steal Cokes from machines at the school. But there were hints at bigger operations. During one dorm conversation, according to an SMU police statement, Havard boasted that he'd just driven a Dodge Viper belonging to a man who'd paid him $400 each for counterfeit licenses for himself, his wife and another relative. "And he's probably gonna call me because he needed to have 20 to 40 more made for his drivers and workers."
Perkins residents started calling Havard "Sketchy" because, as one student would tell SMU police, "he was into sketchy stuff."
His reputation spread across campus. Though Havard rarely drank and claimed he didn't use drugs, it was widely known that he could get marijuana, Ecstasy, coke, pretty much anything. There was one hilarious incident early in September when some guys bought damp pot, allegedly from Havard. As they attempted to dry it in the microwave, the stuff caught on fire, filling Perkins with an unmistakable stench.
If he was looking for customers, Havard was in the right place. "I never thought I was sheltered until I came to SMU," Alison Elrod says. "I learned a bunch of stuff about college life that I didn't know about. Thursday is like the beginning of the weekend. That's when all the parties start." Another female student, now at a different college, agrees: "Perkins was supposed to be the small dorm with quiet hours," she says. "It was probably the craziest bunch of people. I got tired of it; people would get mad at you if you didn't want to go out."
Unable to meet demand, Havard began recruiting subcontractors. He was, after all, a business major. He found willing workers on the second floor. Some he paid cash; others he tempted with gift certificates to A&F, digital cameras, laptops and other goodies. The RAs were rarely around or unable to see what was going on right under their noses.
"Everyone seemed out of control with the making and selling of IDs," says Rachel, who didn't get involved. "It surprised me. People in the dorm were so money-hungry." Visitors to Havard's room would often see stacks of $100 bills on a table. When Rachel asked Havard why he ran the counterfeiting scam, he replied, "Because I can."
Making extra cash tempted Meghan; it cost a lot to fit in at SMU. "Gorgeous, gorgeous girls lived in my dorm," she says. "Everyone was thin. It was so much how you looked and who you knew." Meghan asked Havard what she could do.
Learning that Meghan knew how to do silk-screening, Havard asked her to make some holograms for the fake IDs. "He said he'd pay me $500 if I made 100 holograms," Meghan says.
The project would take two hours. Meghan asked Havard about any legal problems she might face. "It's very unlikely we'll get caught," Havard said. Meghan agreed, and they jumped in his car to buy the materials at a craft store.
Havard told her a bit more about his operation as they drove. Though he had various people doing the work, Havard owned all the equipment. He was branching out to other campuses, like Texas Christian University and the University of Texas. All the money came to several P.O. boxes he'd rented and then was funneled to several off-shore bank accounts.
Though Meghan had agreed to help Havard, the silk-screening materials sat on her shelf for days. "I didn't really need the money," Meghan says. "All I could think was, once I stepped into it, I couldn't really step out."
Her father helped scotch the deal. Meghan asked Bruce if it was legal; he told her "absolutely not." It was only a month after 9-11, Bruce pointed out, and police were pursuing makers of counterfeit IDs. "I annoyed her by making it clear I didn't want her to have one, either," Bruce says.
By then, Havard was replacing those fake licenses because of defects. In early October, on a visit to College Station, a clerk had scanned Meghan's license and the bar code came up "Rosa Garcia." When the clerk said he'd have to call his manager, Meghan grabbed her license and left.
"He was a criminal," Bruce says, "but he had his standards."
Bruce, however, didn't report Havard to police or insist that Meghan do so. "It seemed like when I was in school there was always somebody doctoring IDs to make people appear to be over 21," he says. "I didn't understand at the time the level at which this work was being done."
Meghan wanted to return the pigments to Havard but didn't know how to tell him. Unsettling rumors about Sketchy Doug were zipping through the dorm grapevine: Havard had trouble with the law--something to do with robbing a drug dealer who owed him money. He had guns and silencers hidden in his dorm room's ceiling.
If Havard had leaked the news to scare his minions into silence, it worked. "Everyone started to become uncomfortable with the 'building of knowledge,'" one student later told police in a written statement. "Everyone adopted the 'don't ask, don't tell' logic. At an early point, we didn't want to know anything more."
What happened in Perkins stayed in Perkins. Havard had the second floor under his control. But he wanted more.
Pimps & Hos
Eddie Deen's Ranch, the downtown Dallas party barn, looked like a convention for white hookers. Meghan's outfit was risqué for her: a one-shoulder blouse and a skirt. Other female SMU students were strutting around in lingerie tops and stilettos. Talk about girls gone wild. As slut-strut music blasted, people danced and ping-ponged between two bars dishing out strong alcoholic concoctions.
It was Friday, October 26, 2001, and Meghan's first fraternity party, the annual "Pimps & Hos" bash. After flashing her fake ID to get in, Meghan walked around with Havard, Rachel and another girl.
The evening had started early, with the four piling into Havard's car to go eat Chinese food. Returning to their dorm, they decided to make vodka Jell-O shots. Havard mixed them and stuck the cups in his refrigerator. As he later doled them out, Meghan noticed Havard was careful about who got which cup. Meghan downed two or three shots then mixed her own screwdriver.
Though Meghan hadn't told Havard that she'd backed off of the hologram scheme, he wasn't pressuring her. "It seemed like Doug liked her a lot," Alison Elrod says. "He had true feelings for her. That was obvious. She gave him attention enough to give him a reason to continue to pursue her." But if Meghan was being pursued, she says she hadn't noticed it.
By the time the four decided to board the bus for Pimps & Hos, Meghan was feeling tipsy. At the party, she bought a Long Island Iced Tea, following the safe drinking rules: Get your own drink, don't leave it unattended and throw it away if it tastes weird.
The two other girls melted into the party, but Havard stuck close to Meghan.
Over four or five hours, she'd had the Jell-O shots, a screwdriver and then two "weak" Long Island iced teas--more than she usually drank. Sometime before midnight, Meghan began feeling exhausted, her head hazy and legs wobbly. When Havard asked if she'd like to leave, Meghan agreed. "I was afraid I was going to fall asleep standing up," she says. "I felt disoriented."
From there, she has only fragmented memories. At the dorm, Meghan didn't want to wake her roommate, who had to get up at 3 a.m., so they went to Havard's room. "I figured I could lie down on his sofa," Meghan says. She sat down but couldn't get her shoes off.
Then, as if in a dream, Meghan says, she realized that Havard was on top of her, having sex with her. She didn't want to have intercourse, she says, but she could do little about it. "It was like being paralyzed."
When Rachel returned to the dorm around 2:30 a.m., she ran into her friend John, who asked, "Where's Meghan?" Told she was with Havard, John insisted: "Rachel, you need to go get her out of Doug's room." He later told police he'd learned just that week that Havard had access to GHB, and "he didn't trust [Havard] with women."
With 18-year-old John backing her up, Rachel pounded on Havard's door, but he didn't answer. "I got louder and more persistent," Rachel says. Havard, looking sleepy and surprised, finally opened the door, wearing jeans. Rachel saw Meghan sitting on a bed, wearing only one of Havard's T-shirts and on the verge of tears.
"She was out of it," says Rachel, who had to help Meghan down from the bed and walk her back to her room.
The first person to suggest Meghan might have been drugged was a doctor at the SMU medical clinic. Meghan had awakened with bruises on her wrists, arms and leg. The previous night seemed surreal.
"I just felt something was wrong," Meghan says. She and Rachel remembered how weird Havard had been about who got which Jell-O shots.
Havard had appeared at her door the next day with her clothes, necklace and shoes and asked, "Is everything OK between us?"
"I said, 'No, it's not,'" Meghan says. "I made it clear he didn't need to be around." That day Meghan sent a friend to give the silk-screening materials back to Havard.
Though Havard had assured her he used a condom, Meghan went to the campus clinic the Monday after the incident to get the "morning after" pill. After taking it, Meghan described the events and her symptoms to the physician. "Did it occur to you that you might have been drugged?" the doctor asked. Meghan says she discounted the idea at first. She'd drunk the Jell-O shots early in the evening; later she bought her own drinks. How could Havard have drugged her?
During an interview with the Dallas Observer in 2002 about GHB, Captain Mike Snellgrove, now chief of the SMU Police Department, had suggested one possibility (not in relation to Meghan's allegation against Havard): SMU police had reports that students were bribing bartenders at parties to slip GHB into their dates' drinks.
At her doctor's recommendation, Meghan went to see Cathey Souter, a counselor at the Women's Health Center. "She was saying, 'Are you sure this [being drugged] isn't a possibility?'" Meghan says. "It started becoming more concrete." After seeing Souter several times and evaluating her symptoms and Havard's behavior, Meghan concluded she had been drugged and raped.
Souter suggested that Meghan talk to an assistant dean, who explained Meghan's options: file charges with the SMU police or pursue a complaint within the University Judicial System, which handles violations of the Student Code of Conduct.
"It would be judged by my peers and would be completely confidential," Meghan says.
The weekend after it happened, Meghan told her parents she'd been raped. "I wanted her to press charges," Bruce Bodson says, "but she was so unclear about the events that she was really not comfortable with that until she'd had a chance to sort things out more."
Judy Bodson telephoned Souter, whom she calls the "one shining decent person in this whole fiasco."
"Dr. Souter said that before Meghan had put all the pieces together she was in denial," Judy says. "She [Souter] said she was quite certain it was rape, and it occurred with a drug assist." (Souter declined to comment about Meghan's case.)
Concluding that the campus judicial process wasn't appropriate--she wasn't confident that her complaint would be kept secret--Meghan, in early November, walked to the campus police station and told Captain Jones about the sexual assault. "I wanted to see what my options were," Meghan says. "I still wasn't sure about filing charges."
Jones didn't seem interested in pursuing the drug-rape allegation, Meghan says. He told Meghan she could lodge a written complaint but expressed little hope that anything would come of it. There was no physical evidence; too much time had passed. Given those odds, Meghan didn't want to file anything in writing.
"He perked up when I mentioned the fake IDs and the drugs," Meghan says. After Meghan handed over her phony license, Jones explained that Meghan had to provide the names of everybody involved. "I pretty much had to turn in my whole dorm," Meghan says.
On the condition that her involvement remain strictly confidential, Meghan agreed to Jones' request that she feed him information about Havard's operation and movements.
"Captain Jones said he's going to search Doug's room, and he would be out [of SMU] by the end of that day or the next," Meghan says.
At their first meeting, Jones says, he found Meghan to be "lucid, intelligent and very articulate." But her story of a crime ring on Perkins' second floor seemed outlandish. "I thought surely somebody couldn't be doing all this under our noses," Jones says. "I did some investigation and found out that what she was saying did occur and was occurring. Everything she said checked out."
The Bodsons hoped to bring the ugly incident to a conclusion with a minimum of trauma for Meghan. "She didn't want to be the only witness against this guy," Bruce says. "She was afraid of him."
But Havard wasn't out of the dorm the next day. Or the next.
"Doug Is Selling GHB"
After she confided in girlfriends, word that Meghan had accused Havard of sexual assault spread through Perkins Hall like the stink of that burning marijuana. News got around that the night after her encounter with Havard, Meghan had slept with John, the White Knight who'd extricated her from Havard's room.
She calls it an act of defiance.
"All I could think was I'd slept with somebody I barely knew," Meghan says. "If I'm going to sleep with someone, I'm going to choose. [Sleeping with John] almost evened the score for me."
One night, as a group of friends congregated in Meghan's room to talk, one male student asked her: "Did it ever occur to you that it was GHB?"
Developed as an anesthetic in the 1960s, GHB (gamma hydroxybuterate) morphed into a club drug because a capful creates extreme intoxication and increases libido. Cheap, clear and odorless, with a salty taste easily disguised in an alcoholic drink, GHB leaves no trace after it's passed in urine. Some victims describe GHB intoxication as being in "a waking dream." Depending on the dose, consciousness returns after several hours, but users remember little or nothing.
In 2000 and 2001, Dallas was one of the national hubs of GHB production and distribution. But Meghan knew nothing about the drug. "I pestered him for more information," Meghan says. "He lets slip that Doug is selling GHB."
Phillip says Havard kept it in his mini-refrigerator. "I knew he had the GHB--very concentrated," Phillip says. "Doug was selling GHB. I knew he would take it himself. He told me he would take it before bed."
A debate raged inside the dorm about whether Havard had used it on Meghan. He denied it, telling friends that the sex was consensual. People were taking sides, with most defending Havard. Maybe he was sketchy, but nobody could believe the guy next door was a rapist.
Then, according to SMU police reports, Havard allegedly used GHB on another person in the dorm as a creepy practical joke. On November 16, Meghan and several friends were hanging out in her room when Havard paid someone $20 to give GHB to a shy male student.
Meghan says the young man passed out on her floor. The student, now an SMU senior, says, "I guess he thought it was funny. I didn't really appreciate it, obviously. But I didn't do anything about it."
Havard gave Elrod GHB that same night when she was with her boyfriend, Meghan alleges. Elrod declined to confirm that. "I had some incidents with [Havard] I don't really want to share," she says. "I should have taken some action, but I didn't."
Feeling vindicated, Meghan reported the GHB allegations to Jones. But her class work was suffering; as she struggled to keep up, Meghan was infuriated to learn that Havard was paying students--including her roommate--to write his papers. Meghan began taking an anti-depressant.
"After it happened it seemed like she was just frantic," Elrod says. "Like real paranoid, which I don't blame her. It got to the point where it was like, 'What's wrong with you?' It was almost like she was a different person."
Meghan felt Havard was turning the entire dorm against her. Her roommate had tried to remain neutral, and Meghan saw her as a traitor.
After his first conversation with Meghan, Captain Jones contacted the University Park police and arranged on three occasions for informants to go undercover in the dorm to buy phony IDs from Havard. But he refused to take the bait.
Meghan received an urgent phone call from Jones sometime in late November: He and an undercover "buyer" couldn't locate Havard. She looked outside and saw his black Grand Prix sitting in the faculty lot, not the student lot. Meghan was exasperated.
"They made me go out a few more times to see if his car was there," she says. "But they don't pick him up. It was so absurd."
Meghan's father was also talking to Jones every few days. "I was pushing to find out if they were doing something, how the investigation was coming, what kind of timeline we were on in terms of getting an arrest made," Bruce says. "Pretty much the constant thing was 'any day now.' This begins in November. Then they couldn't find his car. Every time I turned around there was something new."
Bruce didn't understand why SMU didn't simply kick Havard out of the dorm. His legal research indicated that private universities were not burdened by the due process laws limiting public colleges' actions. "For SMU to tell someone to get off their campus is like me telling someone to get off my yard," Bruce says. "They could have done something in a heartbeat. They were more concerned about the institution, and I was more concerned about Meghan."
Jones' response to Bruce: "We have our procedures we have to go through." He reassured Bruce that police didn't consider Havard dangerous.
Frustrated, Bruce turned elsewhere for help. On December 3, Bruce called SMU's dean of Student Affairs. He told her about the investigation and asked if Havard could be removed through the University Judicial System. "I wanted her to pursue the academic misconduct angle," Bruce says. "We could use this alternative means to have him removed."
Bruce says the dean seemed impatient with him. "The impression I got was that I had simply taken what Meghan had said and not done any kind of a balanced investigation," Bruce says. "I was just a pushy parent trying to make her do something. She didn't look at it as any kind of major issue." Bruce asked the dean to call Jones.
Later that day, Bruce got a call from his daughter. Crying, Meghan said the dean had called her into her office and "guilted" her into providing a written statement about the sexual assault. Inexplicably, however, this statement wasn't forwarded to SMU police. The dean planned to call in Havard to get his version. Meghan feared the school would hear both sides but do nothing, leaving Havard still in Perkins and very pissed off.
To Bruce, it seemed like the authorities at SMU weren't communicating with each other, that everyone wanted to handle the sexual assault "in-house" to avoid having it reported as an on-campus crime statistic.
He points out that the school is required by the federal Jeanne Clery Act, named for a student who was raped and murdered in 1986 on a university campus that had a history of violent assaults, to post statistics for certain crimes.
"If it never becomes a criminal matter but is handled internally as a matter of discipline, it doesn't have to hit their statistics," Bruce says. "I wound up having to call the police myself and tell them to get on the phone with the dean and explain it was a criminal matter. It wasn't two kids having a feud in the dormitory."
The dean offered to shift Meghan to a different dorm, but she didn't want to move. "I was so insulted," Meghan says. "I felt from day one they were blaming me." Jones says Meghan resisted because it would be obvious when an arrest came down that she'd "ratted out" Havard.
Bruce called the DEA and the U.S. Attorney's Office, where he spoke to a prosecutor. "I know she contacted SMU and spoke to Captain Jones," Bruce says. "I got a real frantic phone call from him, like the fact that he was getting calls from other outside agencies was going to create real problems for him." Jones reiterated: Havard will be gone soon.
But when nothing happened, Meghan finally decided to file a written complaint with SMU police about the alleged sexual assault. "At least it would be on [Havard's] record if it happened to someone else," Meghan says.
On December 10, Meghan met with Jones in person for the second time. He seemed animated. "He explained that they were doing a sting operation [on Havard] in several counties," Meghan says. "He said, 'It's really exciting...we're going on stakeouts. He's under surveillance. We're trying to buy GHB.' Then he stops himself. 'I can't talk about it because I could mess up the whole thing.'"
Taken aback, Meghan says she pressed the issue of the drug-rape charge, but Jones again discouraged her from filing a written complaint. Three days later, Meghan gave a written statement but left out the sexual assault.
Jones and Snellgrove tell a different story--and their versions conflict. "She never did approach the police department with an allegation of sexual assault," Captain Snellgrove says. But Jones says he encouraged Meghan to lodge the sexual assault complaint. Obviously in his eyes an allegation did exist.
SMU's timeline for the complaint, detailed in interviews with Jones, Snellgrove, Caswell and a lawyer for the university, doesn't always make sense. SMU police say they first learned of Meghan's allegations against Havard on December 10. She filed a written statement on December 13, describing the counterfeit drivers license scheme and the incidents in which Havard allegedly drugged two of her dorm-mates with GHB. SMU police were compelled to put their counterfeiting probe on hold on December 18, when Carrollton police undercover officer Craig DeCarlo informed them that Havard was the target of a drug investigation.
But in separate interviews, all three Bodsons say they began talking to SMU police about the alleged sexual assault--as well as Havard's other questionable activities--in November. The Bodsons' timeline is more believable. Jones didn't have time to conduct an investigation of the counterfeiting scheme if he learned of it only on December 13, the day before students left for the Christmas holidays.
Were the SMU police bumblers, or were they trying to prevent the school from getting a big black eye? They certainly made mistakes:
They never interviewed Havard.
They discouraged Meghan from filing a written complaint of drug rape.
Captain Jones learned Havard was under indictment only when informed by DeCarlo, supposedly on December 18. Bruce Bodson found that the same information was readily obtainable before December 18 in online databases and public records.
Despite SMU's insistence that Meghan never informed police of the alleged sexual assault, DeCarlo says that Jones told him a student had accused Havard of sexual assault but that the case had been "concluded."
SMU's tardiness in addressing the drug-rape allegation exposed Meghan to potential retribution by Havard. What Jones told Meghan again and again was "Havard will be gone."
So Meghan left school on December 15 confident that her nemesis would be scrubbed out of the dorm by the time she returned in January.
When Meghan arrived back on January 12, she was stunned to see Havard in the hallway. Nothing had changed.
The way he stared at her gave Meghan the shivers. Upset, she called Jones. This time he admitted that "it could take another month."
Tipped about Havard's GHB sales sometime in the fall of 2001, DeCarlo had notified HIDTA (High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area) Task Force Seven. The task force provides officers from local and federal agencies for major drug investigations. Jones was drafted to assist DeCarlo.
Feeling her safety was compromised, Meghan forced her roommate, still friendly with Havard, to move to a room on the first floor.
"I was falling apart," Meghan says. And her roommate was always out with Doug. (The roommate, who spoke to the Observer on the condition that she not be identified, said, "I have a lot of regrets about how I handled things.")
Havard either had a sixth sense for surveillance or he, like Meghan, was getting paranoid. Before one meeting with DeCarlo, Jones says, Havard jumped in his car, raced down Hillcrest Avenue, then whipped around to see if someone was tailing him. He began moving the counterfeiting equipment out of his room and giving away other stuff.
Based on his knowledge of the drug business and Havard's indictment, DeCarlo assumed his quarry was armed and dangerous. But Jones kept telling Meghan simply to avoid Havard.
One week into the second semester, Meghan couldn't take Havard's menacing glares, real or imagined, any longer. She went to the chaplain at SMU, who pointed out that the only time Meghan seemed at peace was when she talked of home.
At 2 a.m. on January 20, 2002, Meghan visited the SMU police for the last time. Distraught, weeping, she demanded that the dispatcher call Jones, but she refused. Meghan spoke briefly to Captain Snellgrove.
"She felt she was being punished and treated unfairly," Snellgrove wrote in a report. (In different handwriting, someone tacked on: "Spoke with Bodson on 1-21-02, tried to get her to stay in school and pursue the sexual assault. Bodson said she could no longer remain in school." Meghan calls this "a lie.")
That afternoon Meghan packed her things and drove home.
The next day, DeCarlo, wearing a wire, met Havard in a parking lot near SMU. After discussing price, Havard drove off. Undercover cops tracked him to an apartment complex off Gilbert Avenue. He emerged five minutes later and drove back to meet DeCarlo, who handed him $100 in return for a bottle.
DeCarlo had finally earned Havard's confidence. The contents field-tested positive for GHB. But the buy wasn't the culmination of DeCarlo's investigation. The Bodsons would have been furious if they'd known it was just getting started.
Students peered from their rooms as a dozen or so officers, including several FBI agents, swarmed the second floor of Perkins. In Havard's room, they found a video camera, two computers, a scanner and several fake IDs. Captain Jones reached into a pocket of a jacket hanging in Havard's closet and pulled out $27,800 in cash.
DeCarlo had made a second buy from Havard on January 29, paying $750 for a gallon of GHB. But he wanted a bigger bust in order to slap Havard with a heftier sentence.
On February 5, Havard parked his Grand Prix behind Wizard's Pool Hall off Central Expressway in Richardson. He helped DeCarlo move two 5-gallon containers from his car into the undercover officer's vehicle. A field test verified the contents: 10 gallons of GHB.
Cops immediately converged and arrested Havard. The teenager didn't look surprised, DeCarlo says. "I knew it," Havard sighed, dropping his head like a deflated balloon.
A search of the Gilbert Avenue apartment turned up more GHB, as well as materials for manufacturing the drug. Havard was indicted on two counts of trafficking in GHB, with a potential prison sentence of 10 years. Three associates were also charged.
DeCarlo's GHB investigation had nothing to do with Meghan, but Havard thought she triggered it. And he wanted revenge.
After the arrest, SMU police interviewed nine students suspected of involvement in Havard's counterfeiting operation. Most told police that Havard believed Meghan had turned snitch. Two revealed that Havard told them before the Christmas break that "he had made arrangements to have Meghan Bodson's parents' home in Houston and her grandfather's house in Dallas burned down while they were asleep."
The day before his arrest, Havard went out to dinner with another student. "On the car ride home, [Havard] casually mentioned that he was worried about Meghan causing trouble," the student wrote in a written statement. "He said that as soon as he knew she was leaving he had cleared his room of everything remotely incriminating. He proceed[ed] to tell us, still very casually, that he had discussed the Meghan situation with his friends from outside of school. He said they obtained 3 addresses: Meghan's home in Houston, her grandfather's house in North Dallas, and I forget [the other]. He said his friends told him they would keep the addresses and if something were to happen to him in the next months, that they would burn the houses with no questions asked."
Word of Havard's threats plunged Meghan deeper into anxiety and depression. Her fears intensified when Havard fled overseas sometime in the summer of 2002.
Feeling SMU had put her "in harm's way," Meghan filed her lawsuit against SMU in December 2002. In May of this year, when Meghan gave a deposition, she was still taking five or six medications to get through the day without paranoia and panic attacks. "If I had said nothing, I'd still be at SMU," Meghan says. "I paid $21,000 to go to SMU for one semester so I could be in therapy for the rest of my life." The case settled out of court for an undisclosed amount. Still angry about leaving SMU, Meghan now attends community college.
None of the students investigated for their association with Havard faced criminal charges. Two were suspended and left SMU; most of the others received varying levels of discipline but remained at the school. One was cleared.
"This has been a difficult process for the university," Vice President for Student Affairs James E. Caswell says. "Our hearts do go out to Meghan. We're sorry that it happened here. By the same token, we felt that capturing this person was a good thing to do. Hindsight is 20-20. Our track record has been very good up to this point."
After two years on the run, Havard, now 22, was arrested in Leeds, England, on June 4, 2004. Charged by the Brits with possession of a false passport, $21,000 in counterfeit travelers checks and an illegal firearm, Havard is suspected of involvement in a massive multimillion-dollar scam called "Carderplanet."
As a senior member of the operation, masterminded by a Russian organized crime syndicate, Havard was allegedly involved in identity theft, credit card fraud and passport fraud. He remains in jail; his English attorney had no comment on the charges. Havard was indicted last month in the United States on two counts of federal passport fraud.
During his brief college career, Havard learned several lessons well: Spread the responsibility and the blame; compromise as many people as possible and seduce the rest; and after figuring out the game, outsource your homework.
But one thing Havard never got: Quit while you're ahead.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Observer's biggest stories.
- Amid K2 Crisis, Dallas Might Regulate Head Shops Like Strip Clubs
Thu., Feb. 11, 7:00pm
Fri., Feb. 12, 8:00pm
Sat., Feb. 13, 2:00pm
Sat., Feb. 13, 7:00pm
- Mayor's Campaign Against Convention Center's Exxxotica Expo Is Like Salem Witch Trials
- Details Emerge in Johnny Manziel Domestic Violence Incident