Informant: Oh, here’s a cool thing. There’s been a lot of political assassinations that have happened on campus. The most famous of which is a Romanian Ambassador was murdered in a stall, a bathroom stall in the Divinity Room. And you can you can tell which stall he was shot at, because there’s bloodstains in the tile grout that have not been able to be washed out. So I, and a lot of other people, always use that stall in memoriam. It was a professor who was an outspoken critic of the Romanian Government, I believe.
Interviewer: And he was also a Romanian ambassador?
Informant: No, no, no, no. He was not – he was not an ambassador. He was a, like a refugee and also a critic. Of the regime at the time. And then one day he was just shot in the back of the head in the bathroom in the basement of the Divinity School And people were like, “Never solved.” It was strongly suspected to be a politically motivated murder.
Interviewer: Is it for sure, his blood that’s in the grout?
Informant: Not at all for sure. It’s probably not the blood but that’s just what people say. People talk about it, like, oh, don’t use that stall. That’s the Murder Stall, that’s its name. It’s a urinal, he was literally shot in the urinal. What I tell people is “Use the murder stall out of respect. Out of remembrance.”
My informant is a friend of mine from high school who now goes to University of Chicago. He’s Scottish-Irish and his family on his dad’s side has been in America for hundreds of years. At UChicago, the dorm buildings are all very close-knit and it is not uncommon to stay in them for all four years of an undergraduate education. These dormitories are also very old, in the case of Hitchcock house, over a century old. And thus there are many strange traditions have been perpetuated without knowing exactly the source.
The informant is an old high school friend of mine. We’re both home due to online classes and we frequently call each other. During one of our calls over Zoom, I asked if he had any samples of folklore that I can collect and he shared a few.
Some research reveals the person my informant was talking about was Ioan Petru Culianu, a professor of the history of religions at UChicago who taught until he was murdered in 1991. He was, in fact, murdered in the bathroom of the divinity school. People speculated the murder was motivated by far-right Romanian organizations, but nothing was ever proven.
Nothing I could find mentioned the stall that Culianu was specifically murdered in so I would think of this another example of UChicago students seeing an opportunity to create a story and willing into truth and canon. However, it could very well be true that the Murder Stall is where the murder happened.