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Old 07-13-2016, 06:56 PM   #61
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Welcome to the boards, Austin!

This case is a sentimental one for me, too. I used to be a Resident Advisor and we were trained to try to detect the students who were struggling with college life. Based on what I know of his case, Bryan would have been the type of student we would have tried to assist.

I go back and forth on this one all day long. I really don't know what happened to him, other than I believe he ended up in the water. I'm not sure what is new with his friend...
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Old 07-13-2016, 08:16 PM   #62
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I work at a huge public university, and our students affairs division oversees housing. I know that this case exposed how awful the emergency contact system was in the late '90s.

Let's keep in mind that it's Nisenfeld's mom who used the word "influence." Lots of college students away from home, straight and gay, form friendships that parents may not like. Most parents are incapable of assigning culpability to their children, therefore are more apt to say so-and-so had an "influence."

According to all I've read, Nisenfeld looked like a young nascent gay man who may or may not have had a crush or a relationship with this Cohen. I don't think this matters much. From what I've read of Cohen the idea of his murdering Nisenfeld in a moment of gay panic or something stretches culpability. The truth is sadder: the college lacked the resources to identify Nisenfeld as a troubled kid, and Nisenfeld died -- whether he jumped or met his death accidentally we don't know.

Suicide or accidental death is hard -- devastating for parents. Yet, as I've said in other posts on this thread, we should take with a grain of salt the mom's responses. I dislike how UM let her impugn Cohen without even pointing out, as responsible journalists would, that he would not or could not comment.
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Old 07-14-2016, 08:45 AM   #63
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Originally Posted by LooksLikeCRicci
Welcome to the boards, Austin!

This case is a sentimental one for me, too. I used to be a Resident Advisor and we were trained to try to detect the students who were struggling with college life. Based on what I know of his case, Bryan would have been the type of student we would have tried to assist.

I go back and forth on this one all day long. I really don't know what happened to him, other than I believe he ended up in the water. I'm not sure what is new with his friend...
Thanks very much! I had been reading and following several threads on here and I decided to finally join in.

This case sticks in my mind well because I was only a couple of years away from starting university myself when this happened and I grew up about an hour from Roger Williams, a bit over the boarder in Massachusetts. This case was covered a good amount in the local news around Providence and Boston in 1997-98.

Colleges and universities have improved their emergency contact/family communication policies and practices since the late 90s. Fortunately, there is also more resources available now for coming out/questioning LGBTQ students. Back then, group meetings and on-campus clubs were still the prevailing means of support for gay students, whereas now they tend to have more options and in general, there is a bit more acceptance than twenty years ago.

There are a few good sources I found lately on this case:

http://www.bostonphoenix.com/alt1/ar..._WILLIAMS.html

http://www.providencephoenix.com/arc.../16/BRYAN.html

http://www.rbtaylor.net/bryan.htm


There are more but these three articles from 1997-98 seem to have the most information.

Bryan Nisenfeld's father Steven eventually filed suit against the University, which was dismissed and he also was instrumental in trying to get a bill passed at the Federal level that would require schools to inform family sooner and initiate a search for a missing student within 24 hours.

I don't think Bryan's parents were really ever able to accept the fact their son likely either died by his own hand or accidentally fell into the water somehow. They also seemed to ignore his apparent homosexuality and all of the stress he was under, some of it undoubtedly due to his growing realization of his sexuality. It's such a sad case.
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:07 PM   #64
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It's been awhile since I watched this case.

Some thoughts:

It's interesting that Josh Cohen (Bryan's suspect friend) had been contacting Bryan, even though Cohen was no longer enrolled in the school. Steve Nisenfeld had said that Bryan had told him that he was intimidated by Cohen via the phone (He could attack me, etc.)

Cohen had stated that it was normal for him to threaten Bryan on the phone as a joke (Kinda dubious if you ask me).

Since there's all sorts of sexuality speculations, I kinda wonder if Cohen liked Bryan, but Bryan did not reciprocate the feelings. They were both in college (kids try all sorts of things in college), and perhaps they experimented with each other sexually. Perhaps Cohen wanted a more intimate relationship with Bryan, but Bryan turned him down.

This could explain the threatening phone-calls, and ultimately, Bryan's death.
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Old 09-16-2019, 08:18 PM   #65
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It's been awhile since I watched this case.

Some thoughts:

It's interesting that Josh Cohen (Bryan's suspect friend) had been contacting Bryan, even though Cohen was no longer enrolled in the school. Steve Nisenfeld had said that Bryan had told him that he was intimidated by Cohen via the phone (He could attack me, etc.)

Cohen had stated that it was normal for him to threaten Bryan on the phone as a joke (Kinda dubious if you ask me).

Since there's all sorts of sexuality speculations, I kinda wonder if Cohen liked Bryan, but Bryan did not reciprocate the feelings. They were both in college (kids try all sorts of things in college), and perhaps they experimented with each other sexually. Perhaps Cohen wanted a more intimate relationship with Bryan, but Bryan turned him down.

This could explain the threatening phone-calls, and ultimately, Bryan's death.
This is the likeliest possibility, but it didn't lead to murder. This scenario has played out ten thousand times for two centuries of college life. It coincides with some of the hoariest stereotypes of thwarted murderous homosexuals.
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Old 09-17-2019, 12:32 PM   #66
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This is the likeliest possibility, but it didn't lead to murder. This scenario has played out ten thousand times for two centuries of college life. It coincides with some of the hoariest stereotypes of thwarted murderous homosexuals.
The one thing that bugs me about the case is Josh Cohen's behavior. Bryan Nisenfeld called his dad, and said he felt unsafe due to Cohen's threatening behavior. It's just strange to me that Nisenfeld feared for his life, yet days later, just decides to kill himself?

It's also strange to me that Nisenfeld was also attending classes on the day he disappeared. So, he's living a regular life, and then, out of the blue, commits suicide.

It'd be interesting to see if it's true that Roger Williams University officials were withholding important information on the case.

I think it's very possible that Josh Cohen was stalking Bryan Nisenfeld, which ended in murder. IMO, there needs to be a closer examination of Cohen's behavior.
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Old 09-17-2019, 01:11 PM   #67
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The one thing that bugs me about the case is Josh Cohen's behavior. Bryan Nisenfeld called his dad, and said he felt unsafe due to Cohen's threatening behavior. It's just strange to me that Nisenfeld feared for his life, yet days later, just decides to kill himself?
It's not strange. Suicides are often unplanned. Both things could've been true: Cohen's behavior threatened him, and Nisenfeld killed himself. It's quite possible Cohen's behavior may have provoked Nisenfeld into killing himself, which, of course, isn't the same as murder.

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It's also strange to me that Nisenfeld was also attending classes on the day he disappeared. So, he's living a regular life, and then, out of the blue, commits suicide.
Again, most suicides happen in this manner.

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It'd be interesting to see if it's true that Roger Williams University officials were withholding important information on the case.
Unfortunately, this behavior was common until the last 15 years. I've worked at public universities since the late '90s; we've come a long way toward responding to incidents on campus, thanks to cases like Nisenfeld's.
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:52 PM   #68
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It's not strange. Suicides are often unplanned. Both things could've been true: Cohen's behavior threatened him, and Nisenfeld killed himself. It's quite possible Cohen's behavior may have provoked Nisenfeld into killing himself, which, of course, isn't the same as murder.

Again, most suicides happen in this manner.

Unfortunately, this behavior was common until the last 15 years. I've worked at public universities since the late '90s; we've come a long way toward responding to incidents on campus, thanks to cases like Nisenfeld's.
I disagree, IMO, it's still strange in my mind. Nisenfeld's call to his father was a plea for help since he was intimidated by Josh Cohen. He did value his life enough at the time to reach out to his dad. I cannot state for a fact that it was murder, but there's no absolute proof that it was suicide either.

At the time of Nisenfeld's disappearance, Josh Cohen wasn't even enrolled in the school (His family lived in Georgia). It's possible he stalked Bryan, and even went further than that. That would explain the threatening behavior.

One another thing I found weird about Cohen, he stated in an article that it was "normal" for he and Bryan to threaten each other in jest. Again, Steve Nisenfeld had said that Bryan acted frightened of Cohen when he spoke to Bryan on the phone. What Cohen had said reeks of BS.
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Old 09-17-2019, 03:57 PM   #69
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I tend to lean toward the simplest explanations because they're often true. As a gay man who's been harassed before, I find it hard to believe that a college student murdered a friend over spurned advances.

I also found it journalistic malpractice for the episode to float the possibility of violence between the two young men without attempting to contact Cohen or at least mention that he declined requests for interviews.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:26 PM   #70
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I tend to lean toward the simplest explanations because they're often true. As a gay man who's been harassed before, I find it hard to believe that a college student murdered a friend over spurned advances.

I also found it journalistic malpractice for the episode to float the possibility of violence between the two young men without attempting to contact Cohen or at least mention that he declined requests for interviews.
Obviously I don't know Cohen personally, but I do understand Bryan Nisenfeld's parents weariness of him. Their son disappeared days after Josh Cohen had threatened Bryan on the phone. If I had a son who was threatened with violence by an ex-friend, I'd be on edge.

I could easily see Cohen killing Bryan, especially if Cohen had any controlling, or obsessive tendencies. There are a lot of people in the world who can show ugly behavior if they don't get what they want from others. It's also worth noting that both, Josh and Bryan, were young teens at the time. Teenagers go through extreme ups, and downs.

I'm not really convinced of suicide (not that I'm ruling it out). It's also possible that Bryan accidentally fell in, and drowned as well.
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Old 09-17-2019, 07:39 PM   #71
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I tend to lean toward the simplest explanations because they're often true. As a gay man who's been harassed before, I find it hard to believe that a college student murdered a friend over spurned advances.

I also found it journalistic malpractice for the episode to float the possibility of violence between the two young men without attempting to contact Cohen or at least mention that he declined requests for interviews.
I don't see it as hard to believe personally. It happens enough that there's a ridiculous legal defense for it.
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Old 09-17-2019, 09:04 PM   #72
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College students are not bright people. This student, who, as far we know, didn't show evidence of sociopathic behavior other than the terrible accusation of (allegedly!) dismissing advances, we have to believe, got away with throwing another into the sea AND kept it quiet! I just don't buy it. It's his parents' word against a guy whom we don't see on camera and, I'll repeat, UM didn't say they reached out to.

We like sensation, so I understand the attraction to this case. But it's as likely that Nisenfeld slipped and fell into the sea.
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Old 09-17-2019, 10:43 PM   #73
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I'm going to jump in here to add that it's also been my experience that suicides can run the gamut. I've seen police reports where suicides were very well-thought out and planned,with every last detail taken care of. In my experience, those are the minority cases. I've seen other cases where someone has a tremendously bad day, has or somehow gets possession (usually) of a firearm and decides, "Eff it." The majority are somewhere in the middle.

I would really like to see Bryan's case get some closure. But even now, after all these years, I'm 33/33/33 on accident/foul play/suicide.
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Old 09-18-2019, 06:37 PM   #74
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College students are not bright people. This student, who, as far we know, didn't show evidence of sociopathic behavior other than the terrible accusation of (allegedly!) dismissing advances, we have to believe, got away with throwing another into the sea AND kept it quiet! I just don't buy it. It's his parents' word against a guy whom we don't see on camera and, I'll repeat, UM didn't say they reached out to.

We like sensation, so I understand the attraction to this case. But it's as likely that Nisenfeld slipped and fell into the sea.
It's true that it's Nisenfelds' word against Josh Cohen's word, but I'm more inclined to believe the Nisenfelds.

Steven Nisenfeld stated that Bryan Nisenfeld was frightened of Cohen due to threats via the phone. And Cohen admitted threatening Nisenfeld, but covered his butt by saying, "it was a joke."

Here's a quote from an article on the case:
Cohen says that he and Nisenfeld "used to mess around a lot" and say goofy things on each other's voice mail. "I think what [the police] got was an old message on the machine," he says, although the authorities have not mentioned anything about a message from Cohen. "We used to threaten each other. You know, `Hey, Bryan. I'm going to get you.' "

I just don't see Cohen as some sort of non-threat. He acted like a very suspicious character.

In regard to murder, it's worth noting that Bryan Nisenfeld often needed a place of solitude for his writing. He also used a Sony Walkman to listen to music. Let's say, for instance, he's caught up in writing, or listening to music. I could see Cohen surprising him from behind, and knocking him out cold. From there, he just needs to throw him into the ocean. This scenario could easily play out in the twilight hours, or night when few people are around. We don't know the exact hour of Nisenfeld's disappearance.

I'm still on the fence in regard to the case, but I definitely think Cohen should be viewed with suspicion.
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Old 09-19-2019, 04:55 PM   #75
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I wonder what ever happened to this Josh Cohen?
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