Romanian gov't demands $5K for body of UA grad

By D. Shayne Christie
Arizona Daily Wildcat
December 6, 1996

The parents of a recent UA graduate who was found murdered Monday near Bucharest, Romania, are now trying to raise the $5,000 needed to have their daughter's body returned to the United States.

Jennifer Lynn Hoffman, 23, graduated from the University of Arizona in May with a bachelor's degree in anthropology and Judaic studies.

The Romanian government is demanding $5,000 to return her body to the United States, said Carl Hoffman, Jennifer's father.

"I felt like I was in the middle of a hostage crisis," Carl Hoffman said of Romania's demand.

Carl Hoffman said he has had help from the offices of Republican Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl of Arizona. He said Kyl's office told Carl it would work to get the amount reduced.

Carl Hoffman said the U.S. government will not pay the $5,000, and he is trying to come up with it himself. He also said he hopes that Jennifer's body will be returned by next week.

Carl Hoffman said that Jennifer Hoffman was killed by her boyfriend, 37-year-old Alexandru Tissescu, after she refused his marriage proposal. Tissescu then hung himself.

Tissescu's father found the couple dead in Tissescu's apartment, a State Department spokeswoman said.

Carl Hoffman explained that he learned the details of the murder from two of Jennifer Hoffman's friends in Germany with whom she corresponded daily during her stay in Romania.

Donna Hoffman, Jennifer Hoffman's mother, said Tissescu was sent to the UA by the Romanian government to work on his master's degree in dendochronology.

It was during the time Tissescu was at the UA as an instructor and a student that he met Jennifer.

Carl Hoffman said his daughter went to Germany on vacation and had an opportunity to take part in an archaeological dig. She then decided to go to Romania to see Tissescu before her return home.

He explained that last year, Tissescu had visited Tucson and spent Thanksgiving with the Hoffmans.

"We thought it was just a strong friendship," said Carl Hoffman, who explained that his daughter showed Tissescu around Arizona and took him to the Grand Canyon.

"He was to show her around his country. We thought it was only fitting," he said.

"We trusted him with our daughter, as our friend," Donna Hoffman said.

Carl Hoffman said that he has a letter from Jennifer that talks about Tissescu's proposal and her turning him down.

Tissescu, Carl Hoffman said, had already resigned his position at the university in Bucharest and seemed to have plans already laid out for the marriage.

Tissescu continued to pressure Jennifer Hoffman, and she was having trouble knowing what to do, her father said.

Jennifer Hoffman's friends told her via e-mail from Germany to "get on a plane and go home," Carl Hoffman said. He said his daughter was murdered just two hours before her flight home would have departed.

According to Associated Press reports, police in Bucharest established that Tissescu hit Jennifer Hoffman on the head seven times with a 44-pound dumbbell, then hanged himself minutes later in his own living room.

Police found no note explaining the murder-suicide.

Jennifer Hoffman was born in Westerly, R.I., and moved to Tucson in 1985 with her family. She attended Santa Rita High School, where she was involved in jazz band, softball and basketball and coached girls' basketball for two years following her graduation.

Jennifer Hoffman also worked in the archaeology department of the Arizona State Museum since 1992. During the summers, she worked for the National Park Service as an archaeological surveyor.

Jennifer Hoffman was a multi-talented young woman, able to read and write both German and Hebrew, as well as play five different instruments.

Jennifer Hoffman maintained over a 3.0 grade point average and was able to graduate from the UA with a double major in 4 1/2 years. She had plans to attend graduate school at Syracuse University in New York to study forensic anthropology, her mother said.

Jennifer also worked as a disc jockey at KGMS, a Christian radio station in Tucson.

Dale Cummings, a disc jockey at KGMS who worked with Jennifer for two years, described her as "exemplary, hard working and thorough," and said he enjoyed working with her.

Jennifer hosted her own show on Saturday nights called "The Rock Block."

"Jennifer loved life. She had a winning smile, was pretty, intelligent, hard working. Probably got four hours of sleep a night. She would just keep going, she was driven," Cummings said.

Donations to help meet the Romanian government's fee can be made to the Charitable Fund for Jennifer Hoffman, number 3805-6544, at any Bank One location.

Assistant News Editor Keith J. Allen contributed to this report.