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'We're here under terrible circumstances' | Police say prominent George Mason researcher stabbed to death by son

Dr. Michael Buschmann, 59, was discovered dead in his home after his son, Axel, was found walking down a road covered in blood. The son, 26, is charged with murder.

FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — The Fairfax County Police Department is investigating after a man was stabbed to death Wednesday evening.

On Thursday, police identified Dr. Michael Buschmann, 59, a preeminent researcher at George Mason University, as the victim of a fatal stabbing on Wednesday night.

His son, Axel Buschmann, 26, is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly stabbing his father to death. 

Fairfax County Police Chief Kevin Davis said Buschmann died of "several" stab wounds.

Police initially were notified after callers reported seeing a man walking along Babcock Road covered in blood early Wednesday evening. The man was found to have multiple lacerations to his neck, Davis said. The wounded man was taken to the hospital, where he was identified as Axel Buschmann.  

Officers then went to his home around 5:30 p.m. on a welfare check, looked in the windows, and saw a man on the ground. Police entered the home and found Dr. Michael Buschmann. He was pronounced dead at the home.  

Axel Buschmann is currently in the hospital and will be taken into custody when he is released, Davis said.

"We're here under terrible circumstances," said 2nd Lt. Erin Weeks of the homicide division, during Thursday's news conference.

Credit: Fairfax County police
Dr. Michael Buschmann, chairman of the Department of Bioengineering at George Mason University, was found stabbed to death in his home on March 2 in Fairfax County.

Dr. Paul Allvin, vice president of strategic communications with George Mason University, said the community is anguished. 

Dr. Buschmann was recruited to the university in 2017,  Allvin said, and he was an eminent scholar and the chair of the Bioengineering Department within Mason’s College of Engineering and Computing. Part of his work involved developing technology to make mRNA vaccines less costly and more available to the world.

"We did lose a great mind, a great teacher, by all accounts a good and decent human being," Allvin said.

“This is an incredibly sad day for George Mason University. We are all shocked to learn of Mike Buschmann’s tragic death,” said President Gregory Washington of George Mason University. “The impact of his work and teachings is immeasurable to our students, faculty, staff and the entire Mason community. We mourn with his wife and family, and we will, together, be celebrating his life and contributions in the weeks to come.”

Buschmann arrived at Mason in 2017 with more than 20 years of experience at École Polytechnique in Montreal. Most recently, he helped launch the startup AexeRNA, where he led a team of scientists in working on improved COVID-19 vaccines.

 “I, together with my Mason colleagues and friends, grieve the tragic passing of our respected and beloved colleague, Mike Buschmann,” said George Mason Provost and Executive Vice President Mark R. Ginsberg.

“A scholar, university leader and man of compassion and integrity; his untimely death saddens all who knew and loved him. We will miss him greatly. We honor and celebrate his many remarkable achievements and most of all the supportive and caring relationships he had with so many.”

Dr. Buschmann earned his PhD in 1992 in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology and conducted his postdoctoral studies at the ME Mueller Institute of Biomechanics, University of Bern, Switzerland.

Davis said there was no specific motive he could speak to immediately, but the investigation is ongoing. 

"We hope to get to the point where we can share a motive. A dispute took place and a life was lost," he said, noting that though he didn't have specifics, he speculated a disagreement took place. 

He noted a trend and a pattern of domestic disputes turning deadly, especially with adult children assaulting parents. 

In September, police and nonprofit organizations noted that Fairfax County was experiencing an increase in domestic violence and homicides amid the pandemic. There were at least five instances of a son allegedly killing a parent or sibling in 2021, and on Thursday, Davis didn't see the trend abating. 


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