Bigggggg Mike sits in prison
Series: A Year Ago This Week
Feb. 23 2013 saw the beginning of the hunt for Michael Moses Tarpeh aka "Bigggggg Mike," for charges of assault and burglary against UConn students. Although no arrest was made in Connecticut, he left the campus and has not been back since. However, UConn was not the first, nor was it the last destination of Tarpeh's crime spree.
Tarpeh began racking up serious charges like armed carjacking, robbery and assault and battery in Massachusetts, where an extraditable warrant for his arrest is still pending. He also had an extraditable warrant for his arrest in West Virginia. Tarpeh headed next to UConn, where he burglarized student apartments and stole a student's credit card. A non-extraditable warrant for his arrest is pending, meaning the warrant has to be served in Connecticut.
By March, Tarpeh had warrants for his arrest in New York, Massachusetts, West Virginia and Connecticut, but this was just the beginning. Tarpeh had found himself in a Pottowattamie District court in Iowa facing charges for stealing gasoline. While he had already accumulated numerous charges, including grand larceny, the Iowa charges were dismissed, and on March 6, 2013, Tarpeh was released.
After Tarpeh ended up in Columbus, Ohio on March 22, 2013, he developed a cult-like following on Twitter after openly mocking the Columbus University police by tweeting pictures of himself on campus. One tweet reads, "The pigs can't catch me baby ... haha."
It seemed Tarpeh would never face justice, until he had finally pushed his luck too far in West Virginia. In a Morgantown apartment, which is located in Monongalia County, Tarpeh had allegedly entered a woman's apartment, choked her, attempted to sexually assault her, and then stole several items. The incident actually occurred Feb. 2, 2013, but it was not until after the case in Iowa that West Virginia was made aware of his location and was able to make the arrest.
Tarpeh pleaded guilty on May 10, 2013 to the charges of aggravated assault, sexual assault and burglary. He was sentenced to two to ten years for the malicious assault as well as six months for petty larceny.
A recurring theme in the tweets of students "Bigggggg Mike" visited was that his presence was largely taken as a joke. However, the charges he incurred in several states, and the number of victims he had agitated show that he was indeed a dangerous criminal.
"Unfortunately we don't have a lot of control over the media, but does it do any harm? We perceived the case in the same way as if it had no attention," said Lieutenant Andrew Fournier of the UConn Police Department. "With this case, because it did receive more media attention, things had not really changed, but we sometimes receive extra public assistance."
For cases such as these, where students on campus are subject to being harmed by off campus criminals, Fournier refers students to the UCPD's website that provides general safety tips on preventing crimes like the incident that Tarpeh was involved in.
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