Woman confesses to vandalizing ZBT members’ vehicles

Max LaVictoire returned from Spring Break to find his tires slashed and three swastikas keyed onto his car. Three other ZBT members had slashed tires as well. Courtesy of Mark Rubinstein

Max LaVictoire returned from Spring Break to find his tires slashed and three swastikas keyed onto his car. Three other ZBT members had slashed tires as well.

The University City Police Department announced Wednesday morning that a female suspect confessed to vandalizing the cars of members of the Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity. She was taken into custody and arrested for vandalism.

Max LaVictoire, a sophomore living in the ZBT house at 7020 Forsyth Blvd., returned from spring break on Friday to find three swastikas keyed into his car and all of his tires slashed.

The woman who confessed is a former acquaintance of some of the fraternity members, University City Police Captain Mike Ransom said.

LaVictoire says that although he and the woman would recognize each other, they didn’t know each other well and had rarely conversed.

“I’m glad it’s this kind of circumstance instead of a hateful anti-semite,” LaVictoire said. “I’m glad we know who it is.”

Charges have not yet been filed but are pending, Ransom said. Police would not confirm that the woman was a student. No other information has been released.

“The fact that we had to deal with this now…has been an unexpected distraction, and we’re happy to get back to normal programming,” ZBT president and sophomore Dylan French said. “It’s such a random act of destruction almost for the sake of it.”

Three other cars at different locations on Forsyth Boulevard—all belonging to ZBT members—had their tires slashed as well, but no other cars were touched, including one next to LaVictoire’s with a prominent Jewish star on it.

“Ben” was scratched into one of the cars, although that is not the owner’s name.

Besides LaVictoire’s car being parked in the ZBT driveway, there were no ZBT bumper stickers or similar indications that any of the cars belonged to members of the fraternity.

The University City Police Department is investigating the crime. The police believe it happened between Thursday and Friday.

Two swastikas were scratched onto LaVictoire’s tailgate and one onto the driver’s side door of his Dodge Ram 1500 truck, he said.

The ZBT house is located next to the Chabad House.

“We [at Chabad] do not feel threatened,” Chabad Rabbi Hershey Novack said. “I imagine that the perpetrator did not understand the depth of meaning associated with using a swastika.”

The crime is not being pursued as a hate crime, and in fact the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) no longer uses the swastika alone as a determinant of anti-semitism.

“[A hate crime] takes the crime of vandalism, or vandalism and trespass, and any other crime that could be attached to what happened Thursday and Friday, and if the intent becomes clear that the intent was to attack Jewish students just because they were Jewish, then it becomes a hate crime. But if someone is angry at the fraternity…and they commit the crime for that reason, then that’s not a hate crime,” Karen Aroesty, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League for Missouri and Illinois, said. “It’s entirely possible that the swastikas were simply thrown in there. Everybody knows that ZBT has a connection to Judaism.”

ZBT is a historically Jewish fraternity, though it is open to students of any background.

With additional reporting by Michael Tabb.

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