Father of man accused of murdering UofA professor says son was ‘a ticking time bomb’

The father of Murad Dervish, who is accused of murdering a University of Arizona, said his son has a violent past and was a “ticking time bomb.”
Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 8:04 PM MST
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TUCSON, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The father of the man accused of murdering a University of Arizona professor is sharing his story for the first time. Murad Dervish is accused of shooting and killing Thomas Meixner last week. He was the department head of the graduate program Dervish was in. Dervish had recently been expelled and barred from campus over threatening behavior.

Now, Dervish’s father said this is the worst-case scenario for a pattern of concerning behavior he says they tried desperately to fix. Dolgun Dervish was in tears during his interview, trying to express his apologies and sorrow to Meixner’s family. He said his son suffered from Asperger’s syndrome and was in and out of prison because of his actions - trying to kill multiple family members.

Dolgun Dervish said his son was a ticking time bomb. “When I got the call, my first impression was it finally happened. He killed somebody,” he said. It was a startling thought for a father - anger and grief toward his son and unimaginable despair for the victim. “I’m so sorry. My heart goes for this young man. He’s 52 years old. We studied all about him. He was a wonderful man,” Dolgun Dervish said while crying.

On Oct. 5, police say former University of Arizona graduate student Murad Dervish went to the Harshbarger Building on campus and shot and killed Meixner. The professor was the head of the Department of Hydrology & Atmospheric Sciences, which was the program Murad Dervish was a part of until he was expelled. “My son has Asperger’s Syndrome,” Dolgun Dervish said.

He said his son’s mental disorder led to a pattern of violent behavior, which started at Penn State. “He pulled a knife on a pizza man,” Dolgun Dervish said. Then, it happened at his dad’s restaurant.

“[He] started breaking things and threw things at me and hurt me,” Dolgun Dervish said. And then toward his mom in San Diego. “There he tried to kill his mother,” Dolgun Dervish said.

Those episodes landed Murad Dervish in prison three different times. But Dolgun Dervish said he tried expressing to law enforcement that his son needed more mental health help and was a danger to everyone if he was let out.

“You can’t just put him in prison and punish him and think in two years and then let him out. Nothing will be done,” Dolgun Dervish said.

Dolgun Dervish said he stopped answering his son’s calls after he tried to kill his mother, but said a week before Meixner’s murder, his son tried calling to share his frustration that he was kicked out of both school and was being evicted from his apartment.

According to the search warrant, authorities found a slew of items in Murad Dervish’s car, including two loaded handguns, five knives, two machetes, rounds of ammunition, three cell phones, a bag to block cell signals and prevent tracking, and a can of mace.

Dolgun Dervish said he hopes to raise awareness for how devastating Asperger’s can be and why help beyond prison is necessary. And to the family of Thomas Meixner, he had this message. “I’m so sorry for your pain. I share it every day,” he said through tears.

Murad Dervish is facing charges of first-degree murder and aggravated assault. Thomas Meixner’s funeral is Friday in Tucson at 10 a.m. and the family says it is open to the public who wishes to come to pay their respects.