A man identified on Wednesday as Eric Lannon is said to have a history of theft and swindling, according to campus police. He has reportedly slept in at least four University of Richmond student apartments or houses and has received money, food, alcohol and clothing from numerous students.
“He seemed like a nice guy,” said one of the junior Richmond College students whose house Lannon stayed at Tuesday.
Lannon is believed to be from Richmond, according to various sources. He has been spotted on Richmond’s campus several times during the past three weeks, students report. All students quoted have asked to remain anonymous in the interest of safety.
A campus crime alert released Wednesday afternoon cautioned community members not to interact with this person, and to contact URPD immediately if he is seen on campus. Lannon was not in police custody as of Wednesday night.
Lannon is known to manipulate his victims into providing shelter, food, money and transportation under false pretenses, according to the police report. At least 25 Richmond students have confirmed that they have interacted with him in the past three weeks.
On Tuesday night four junior Richmond students met a man they later identified as Lannon in the E. Claiborne Robins School of Business. Lannon told them he was looking for his sister, whom he was staying with.
Lannon borrowed one student’s cell phone and computer but could not contact anyone, the students said. When he wasn’t able to contact his family by 4:30 a.m., the final student in the group of friends, identified here as Sam, was preparing to leave the business school.
“I felt bad for the guy,” Sam said. “I didn’t want him sitting in the rain.”
Sam said he offered for Lannon to stay at his house, gave him a sleeping bag and took back his computer.
When Sam got his computer back, he said he had started searching the Internet to find out more about his houseguest.
“I started reading these stories about how this guy is just ridiculous,” Sam said. “And I saw this picture and realized that’s him. And that’s when I was like, this guy definitely can’t stay here.”
The housemates said they woke Lannon up at 6 a.m. and asked him to leave. They argued for a bit and Sam drove Lannon to what he was told was Lannon’s family’s home, Sam said.
Lannon was spotted on campus Wednesday by one of Sam’s housemates, identified here as Larry. Larry said he decided to call campus police after reading online stories suspected to be about Lannon and seeing him again on campus.
“He just didn’t seem like a good person to be hanging around on campus,” Larry said. “I kind of thought, if someone doesn’t catch on and kick him out, he’s probably going to take advantage of someone.”
While on the phone with the police, Larry said he followed Lannon to the Carole Weinstein International Center, where several police cars arrived.
“All of these cops were pulling up, probably four or five of them,” Larry said, “but they never found him.”
Tuesday night was not the first reported sighting of Lannon on campus.
The first reported interaction with Lannon happened on Jan. 16 when he arrived at a party in one of the University Forest Apartments, said one of the residents of that apartment.
Another Richmond College student, identified here as Andy, met a man the next day who identified himself as Lannon. Lannon asked Andy where he should go if his friend had just been arrested. Andy said Lannon could use his computer to look up information for a police station.
“He said they weren’t going to release his friend until 6 p.m.,” Andy said. Lannon thanked Andy for his help and said he would figure it out from there.
“I felt bad for leaving him on his own and said he could hang out with me and my friends for the next couple hours and that I would give him a ride to bail his friend out,” Andy said.
Andy brought Lannon with him to his off-campus house, and later that night, Lannon called the police again and said his friend couldn’t be bailed out until midnight, Andy said. He proceeded to hang out, eat Andy’s food and consume alcohol, Andy said.
When the night ended, Andy said Lannon had not been in a state to take care of himself so he offered Lannon a place to sleep on his couch. Andy said that although Lannon hadn’t done anything to warrant concern, he was aware that a stranger was sleeping on his couch and proceeded to stay up all night. The next morning, Andy drove Lannon back to campus.
Several Richmond students have shared similar testimonies of interactions with Lannon during the weekend of Jan. 17. No information has come forward about Lannon’s whereabouts on campus between Jan. 18 and Feb. 4.
Contact staff writer Kylie McKenna at firstname.lastname@example.org