It’s been three weeks since an economics professor at the University of South Alabama (USA) was found murdered inside of his home, but police do not appear to be any closer to identifying a suspect.
As Lagniappe has reported, Dr. Matthew Wiser’s body was found inside his house on Gaillard Road sometime in the afternoon on Nov. 20 and he appeared to have been killed by a gunshot wound. Officers with the USA Police Department discovered Wiser while conducting a welfare check after his absence on campus was noticed by colleagues.
Police say the last time Wiser was seen alive was teaching a night class on campus just a few miles from his home in the evening hours of Nov. 19. Administrators at USA have described Wiser as funny, smart and as a professor who was “well liked” by faculty and students alike.
Speaking with Lagniappe this week, Mobile Police Department (MPD) Chief Lawrence Battiste confirmed for the first time Wiser’s home showed signs of forced entry — indicating Wiser’s killer may not have been known to him. However, officials have not yet said whether there appeared to be signs of a robbery.
“There’s not a whole lot of new information to release at this time, but we are still following up on leads from the information we do have,” Battiste said. “Right now we are trying to establish a complete timeline from the last time we would have thought [Wiser] was actually alive.”
Battiste has previously told reporters Wiser did not have any immediate family or close connections in the Mobile area, adding he was “somewhat of a recluse.” He said MPD’s investigation has been somewhat challenging because they haven’t had much to go off of other than his interactions at USA.
Asked earlier this week, Battiste said investigators have not yet learned enough to rule any one person or groups of people out as a suspect, including any students or co-workers who knew Wiser. However, at the moment, police have also not given any indication who a possible suspect might be, either.
On campus, administrators have met the news of Wiser’s passing with sorrow and confusion. He specialized in game theory and mathematics and taught in USA’s Mitchell College of Business. Dean Bob Wood, who described Wiser as “a dear friend and colleague” and “an outstanding professor,” issued a statement Dec. 4, announcing the school’s plan to host a memorial service next month.
According to Wood, the service will be held Jan. 16, at 11 a.m., in the Laidlaw Performing Arts Center. Wood also said a memorial scholarship was established by the college in Wiser’s name, though details on whom it might be available to the future weren’t immediately available.
Police are continuing to offer a $5,000 reward for any information leading to an arrest in the case. Information can be submitted to MPD anonymously at 251-208-7000 or online at mobilepd.org/crimetip.
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