Police report provides details on Plymouth murder suspect

Tyler Hagmaier left notes for his mother

  • Hagmaier

Recorder Staff
Published: 6/3/2016 11:43:25 PM

GILL — It was the hardest phone call Heidi Flaherty of Montague ever had to make, she told police.

Flaherty had phoned the state police on May 7 to tell them she’d found a notebook in the back of her car that belonged to Tyler Hagmaier, her 24-year-old son who had been identified as the suspected murderer of Vibeke Rasmussen, a 76-year-old Quincy College professor who was killed in her Plymouth apartment two days earlier.

In the notebook, Hagmaier reportedly confessed to the killing, according to an affidavit filed in Plymouth District Court by State Trooper Joseph Folloni, who investigated the murder.

The entries, written on separate pieces of paper and found tucked inside the green, spiral-bound notebook, were in Hagmaier’s handwriting. They detailed how he had relapsed into alcohol use and how he had vowed to take his own life if that ever happened. They indicated that he was planning to jump from the French King Bridge and included a confession, addressed to “everyone,” that it was he who had blacked out and planned to kill himself on May 5, but instead murdered Rasmussen. It noted that he “had nothing against her,” and didn’t know why he did it, the affidavit read. Another sheet included instructions on who to tell about his death and when.

On a final note: an apology to his family members and a message that he loved them.

Hagmaier’s body was found floating in the Connecticut River in Gill, near the bridge, on Memorial Day and identifed by the state Office of Chief Medical Examiner Wednesday.

Information in the affidavit indicated Hagmaier had a long history of mental health problems, including suicidal thoughts and substance abuse.

“It really highlights a really important difference in terms of stigma. When people have mental health problems or see others with them, they can be reluctant to seek help,” Karen Jeffers, Clincal and Support Options’ CEO, said of the Hagmaier case Friday. “With a broken arm, people don’t hesitate to seek help. We need to overcome the stigma, and there’s a wide range and degree of mental health problems but all can be treated.”

“Some people think it won’t make a difference, and that’s the biggest myth,” she said. “If you can identify it, you really can treat it.” Most communities have emergency psychological evaluation services available, she noted.

Plymouth Police discovered Rasmussen’s body, which had severe lacerations and puncture wounds to her head, arms, face, hands, neck and shoulders, after performing a well-being check around 12:30 on May 6 at her apartment on Tide View Path after her son-in-law reported that she hadn’t shown up for work that day and wasn’t answering her phone, according to the affidavit. The wounds were “consistent with defensive-type injuries,” Folloni wrote.

Neighbors reported hearing what sounded like screaming just after 11 p.m. the night before, but told police they saw or heard no one leave the complex, according to the affidavit.

Rasmussen’s daughter told police her mother had never mentioned having any problems with her neighbors over the eight years she lived there, Folloni wrote.

Folloni wrote that police were able to identify Hagmaier as the only tenant who could not be accounted, and a review of their records showed that he had been involved in an incident as recently as January where he was found holding a knife to his gut in the basement of his grandparents’ Plymouth home, where he’d been living.

Police had to deploy Tasers and a bean-bag shotgun to subdue him during that incident. He later told police he’d been suicidal since he was a teenager and had previously served jail time for attempting to stab a neighbor. His father also committed suicide, and left a note behind instructing Hagmaier to do the same.

Hagmaier, police later learned, had moved in across the hall from Rasmussen in April.

Flaherty told police that she’d become nervous after leaving work May 6 because she could not reach her son on his cell phone — which was usually an indication that he’d become suicidal, she told police.

Flaherty and her daughter set out to Plymouth to try to locate Hagmaier, but decided to check the bridge first since it had been a focal point in his previous suicide attempts. They found him there sitting in his silver Prius. He appeared drunk, Folloni wrote, so they blocked his car in to prevent him from leaving and convinced him to come home with them, according to the affidavit.

At the house, Flaherty told police, Hagmaier had told her that he was “a bad person and should be dead.”

Officers searching for Hagmaier contacted his mother that night. She told them he was at her home in Montague, that he’d been drinking, and he was sleeping it off. They informed her they’d be sending officers to speak with him.

Moments later, Flaherty called the police back to tell them that Hagmaier had just left and he was planning to kill himself. Police pinged his phone near the French King Bridge in Erving.

Police also spoke with Hagmaier’s ex-girlfriend, who told them she’d recently been texting Hagmaier and they had made plans to spend time together. She told police Hagmaier had recently left a drug and alcohol rehab program.

She said she had been texting Hagmaier the day he attacked Rasmussen and had found it odd when he’d stopped responding earlier than usual, Folloni wrote. He told her the next day that he’d gone to bed early because he’d been binge watching television shows at night and it had messed up his sleep cycle.

She said Hagmaier’s text messages seemed “off,” consisting of one word answers and shorter messages than usual, according to the affidavit. She received one message from him around 8:30 p.m. May 6 that read “I love you.” She responded, but received no answer.

Minutes later, Flaherty texted her to tell her Hagmaier had gone missing.

Hagmaier was indicted by a Plymouth County Grand Jury for the murder of Rasmussen last week, before his body was recovered.

Reached at her home Wednesday afternoon, Heidi Flaherty said she is “very sorry for the other family,” and stressed that her son was a good person, but declined further comment at the time.

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