Cops: Suspect in prof's bludgeoning death found hiding in closet in victim's home

Jeremy Safran

CBS New York

NEW YORK -- Police have arrested a man who was found hiding inside a basement closet in a Brooklyn home where a 66-year-old professor was found bludgeoned to death. Police said Tuesday that Mirzo Atadzhanov, of Brooklyn, was arrested on murder and burglary charges in the death of Jeremy Safran, a professor of psychology at The New School for Social Research.

Police had gone to his home on Monday to investigate a report of a burglary in progress when they found Safran in the basement with trauma to his head and body.

While searching the basement, police say they found the 28-year-old Atadzhanov hiding inside a closet with several tools, including a hammer. Sources tell CBS New York Safran was attacked with a hammer and was beaten and stabbed to death.

The station reports the victim's wife and teen daughter were home at the time of the killing. Neighbor Doreen Giuliano said she noticed a suspicious person in the family's yard around 6 p.m. and texted Safran's wife, who called 911.

Investigators believe Atadzhanov snuck into the home through a rear basement window, reports CBS New York. When asked by reporters what happened, Atadzhanov replied, "I defend myself."

Information on Atadzhanov's lawyer was not immediately available.

The New School issued a statement saying it is "shocked and saddened to learn last night of the tragic death of Jeremy Safran."

"An internationally renowned psychotherapist, Jeremy was deeply respected and admired by The New School community and his colleagues throughout the psychology profession for his work on psychoanalytic theory and practice, as well as research on psychotherapy processes and outcomes," the school said. "We offer our deepest condolences to his family and will be offering support to his many friends and colleagues throughout the university community in the days ahead."

Police say the intrusion and attack appear random, but the motive remains unclear.