Former Student Stabbed to Death at 27

Photo: Former UC Berkeley student Melanie Dunn died at age 27.
Dawn McMahan/Courtesy
Former UC Berkeley student Melanie Dunn died at age 27.

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Friends and family remember former UC Berkeley student Melanie Dunn as a caring and outspoken individual, after she was found fatally stabbed in her San Jose home Feb. 10. Her boyfriend was taken into custody later that day and named as a suspect the next day. She was 27.

A transfer student from De Anza College in Cupertino, Dunn was known by her friends as a multi-talented and extremely busy student activist.

"Her smile was contagious, anyone who was around her would be in a happier mood," said friend and former De Anza classmate Ayeshah Khalid, in an e-mail. "She was one of those people you wanted to be around."

While at De Anza, Dunn participated in the activist group Students For Justice, which advocated against statewide budget cuts to higher education.

In addition to her studies, Dunn was part of the De Anza Associated Student Body, the Black History Month Committee and the Black Student Union.

"Melanie was always interested in getting to know new people, especially those who came from diverse backgrounds," said former De Anza classmate Jittaun Jones in an e-mail. "She oftentimes participated in activities that were completely out of her norm. For example, participating in the Muslim Student Union's annual Ramadan Banquet, though she was not Muslim."

After finishing her studies at De Anza in 2005, Dunn took time off to become a student trustee, acting as a liaison between the students and the Board of Trustees for the community college, before applying to UC Berkeley

"Her goal was to be a Berkeley student since we were little kids," said Dawn McMahan, Dunn's sister, in an e-mail. "She loved what Berkeley had to offer and was proud of her accomplishment."

Dunn attended UC Berkeley in the fall of 2005 and decided to take a break from school in the spring of 2007.

"She needed just about one more semester to complete her Political Science degree, but like many Cal students, she was overwhelmed with the experience," said her brother, Jonathan Dunn, in an e-mail. "She always loved Cal and planned to take a break from her job (at the Clift Hotel in San Francisco) this summer to finish her degree."

Melanie Dunn had dreams of diving into politics after her graduation.

"We actually joked a few months ago, saying she should write her acceptance speech for the first female president," he said in the e-mail. "My sister loved to raise awareness to issues that caused debate. I know that was her calling."

Another of Dunn's many passions included beauty and makeup, according to Khalid, who said Dunn did her makeup for her wedding as well as her friends'.

Jonathan Dunn added that his sister's relationship with the suspect - David Jerome Shackelford Jr. - was brief and that there were no warning signs.

"The only positive about what happened to my lovely sister is now we can join the battle along with many other families, as far as raising awareness to this issue," he said in the e-mail.

Amy Cornell, a public information officer at the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, said Shackelford was arraigned yesterday afternoon at the Santa Clara County Courthouse, but did not enter a plea bargain. His next court date is scheduled for March 1. He is currently being held in custody, with no bail, booked on a charge of murder and faces 25 years to life in prison, plus one additional year for use of a deadly weapon.

A funeral service will be held for Dunn at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 26 at the Cathedral of Faith Church in San Jose.

Andrew David King of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


Contact Jasmine Mausner at [email protected]

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