Tess Majors, who graduated from Charlottesville’s St. Anne’s-Belfield School in spring 2019, was stabbed to death near Barnard College of Columbia University during an armed robbery on the afternoon of December 11. Majors, a Virginia native, was an 18-year-old freshman at Barnard.
St. Anne’s-Belfield School representatives described Majors as a “shining light” in the Charlottesville community.
“At the moment, our school is mourning this tremendous loss and we have made our school counselors as well as faculty and administrators available to our students and alumni,” said Beth Stefanik, director of communications for St. Anne’s.
Majors, who was a member of the Barnard College Class of 2023, was walking in the Upper West Side’s Morningside Park on Wednesday afternoon when several teenage boys apparently attempted to rob her. After resisting, Majors was repeatedly stabbed in the stomach, and the group of young men fled south through the park. She then approached an unoccupied Columbia University guard booth. When the guard returned from his rounds, he found her collapsed and called for assistance at 5:36 p.m.
The New York Times reports that a 13-year-old suspect is in custody and has been charged in connection with the murder. New York police stated that Majors was taken to Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital, where she was later pronounced dead.
Barnard College and St. Anne’s officials released statements mourning the tragic loss.
“We mourn alongside the Majors family and all who knew and loved Tess,” St. Anne’s head of school David Lourie told The Daily Progress. Lourie described Majors as “a good friend, respected classmate, trusted teammate, and creative and passionate musician.”
In a campus-wide letter sent around 11 p.m. on the night of the stabbing, Barnard’s president, Sian Leah Beilock, expressed her shock and sorrow.
“This is an unthinkable tragedy that has shaken us to our core. Please know that we are all grieving together and I am thinking of you as we process this awful news as a community,” Beilock wrote. “Tessa was just beginning her journey at Barnard and in life. We mourn this devastating murder of an extraordinary young woman and member of our community.”
Columbia Dean of Undergraduate Student Life Cristen Kromm reacted to the tragedy in a separate email to the student body, writing that staff will be available for support and counseling. Thursday morning, Columbia University President Lee Bollinger delivered his condolences, informing the student body that he will work closely with the New York Police Department and Barnard officials to keep the community updated on developments in the investigation.