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MU junior killed in Italy over break

Student stabbed while walking in private garden

Published: Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Updated: Sunday, February 14, 2010 23:02

Friends and family of Miami University junior John Thomas Petters gathered yesterday to celebrate the young man's memory at his funeral in the Basilica of St. Mary, a church in Minneapolis, Minn. According to Mary Pernula, the spokeswoman for the Petters family, the enormous church was completely packed with people who came to pay tribute to the student who was killed overseas on March 13. Petters, a political science major from Edina, Minn., was spending his spring break visiting friend and fellow 2001 Edina High School graduate Andrew Levine. Levine, who attends the University of Florida, is studying abroad this semester in Florence, Italy. At some point in the evening, Petters ran into another high school friend, Anne Yanda, at a pub in Florence. A student at St. Norbert's College in DePere, Wisc., she is also studying abroad. After leaving the pub, Yanda wanted to show Petters the park she had seen while jogging. The two 21-year-olds followed a young women into the gates of that garden, one that is open to the public in May and June only. According to police reports, Petters was intoxicated. The woman, identified later as 27-year-old Beatrice Raugei, was returning home from a nightclub. She explained in Italian that they weren't permitted in the park, but neither of the students understood what she was saying. Raugei became frightened and sped her car to her home, soon after which her father, Alfio Raugei, emerged from the house. Police reports say that Alfio Raugei, an antique dealer and shop owner, thought the two students were burglars. He had experienced previous problems with others on the property, and he confronted Petters. The two became involved in a physical altercation, but authorities are still investigating the details. At some point, the 54-year-old Raugei pulled a knife and began stabbing Petters. Petters died of a fatal wound in the artery of his left thigh, waiting for an ambulance in the park Gardino delle Rose. Translated to mean "Garden of the Roses," the park is home to hundreds of rare and ancient roses and draws many visitors during the public months. "He was energetic and vivacious," said Petters' roommate, Cameron Codilis. "He had a genuine heart, and he cared about helping." Pernula said Petters had many friends. "Everyone who knew him loved him," Pernula said. "He had hundreds of friends, and he made everyone he met feel like they were a good friend of his." Raugei is being held on remand under a court order. He was charged on March 17 of "voluntary homicide," which is roughly the equivalent of the U.S. charge of first-degree murder, according to Pernula. Raugei's defense attorney Stefano Bertini claims that his client's actions were made in self-defense and Raugei thought he was being suffocated by Petters. Bertini said in an article by The Associated Press on March 18 that "a series of misunderstandings led to this tragic event." The student's father, Thomas Petters, said in an interview with the Star Tribune that his son "doesn't have a mean bone in his body" and was possibly trying to protect Yanda. Prosecutors say that Raugei continued to stab Petters, even after Raguei's own daughter tried to break them apart. "It's just a different world," said junior Codilis, who studied with Petters in Australia last semester. "You don't expect to bury someone when they are 21." John Petters made a lasting impact on the lives of those surrounding him. "Knowing him made me a better person," Codilis said. Any student who has concerns or would like to speak with a professional is encouraged to call the Student Counseling Center (SCC) at 529-4634 or the 24-hour Community Crisis Hotline at 523-4146.

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