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Case Of Unknowing Witnesses Goes To State Attorney

August 13, 1985 GMT

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) _ Students who apparently saw the sex-strangulation slaying of a university secretary but mistook it for ″a little risque sex″ say they ″certainly would have intervened″ had they known what was happening.

When two of the students heard the next day that the woman had been killed and realized that what they had seen was more than an afternoon fling, they led investigators to a classmate who was arrested and ″admitted perpetrating this offense,″ said a police affidavit.

Lt. Pat Johnson of the University of South Florida campus police force said the Hillsborough State Attorney’s office plans to take the case before a grand jury, possibly Wednesday.

In the meantime, Robert Acampora, 28, a third-year computer engineering student, was being held without bond on a charge of first degree murder in the death of Virginia Bulger, 50.

Engineering students Robert Wells, 36, and Ira Needleman, 34, said they were walking down a corridor with two other students at lunchtime Friday looking for a place to study when they arrived at a conference room.

The door was locked, but they could see through a window what they thought was a man and a woman together, Wells said. The foursome left quietly and found another study room.

″None of us suspected that we had witnessed anything other than a little risque sex,″ Wells said.

Only after the students learned the next day of Ms. Bulger’s death did they realize what they apparently witnessed, Wells said.

″To be two feet away from something like that,″ said Wells. ″But there was no indication to say the woman was in any distress.

″None of us suspected a thing. None of us thought there was anything suspicious or we certainly would have intervened.″

According to a police affidavit, Needleman recognized the man in the conference room as a fellow engineering student and police arrested Acampora at his parents’ home in Hudson.

Johnson said Acampora was questioned for several hours without an attorney or relatives. According to the affidavit, Acampora ″provided an oral statement after being advised of his constitutional rights″ and ″admitted perpetrating this offense.″

Johnson declined to elaborate.

Police said Ms. Bulger, a Department of Communications secretary and a USF employee for the past eight years, was sexually assaulted and strangled between noon and 1 p.m. Friday. Her body was discovered three hours later by department chairman Arthur Bochner.

Acampora’s mother Louise described her son as a loner, more interested in school work than socializing or dating. For the past three years, Acampora has made the 90-mile roundtrip from home to school.

″He never looked at a woman,″ said Acampora’s father Alfred. ″He was too busy studying... For three years it was no dates, no going out, just study, study, study.″ Mrs. Acampora said her son had never been in trouble and was not violent. ″We’re not saying he didn’t do it, but if he did, it had to be because something just snapped,″ she said.

She received a telephone call from her son after his arrest. ″He said he didn’t even know her,″ Mrs. Acampora said. ″He said he wouldn’t even know her if he saw a picture of her.″