Tatiana Tarasoff and Prosenjit Poddar were both students at the University of California at Berkeley when they met for the first time at a folk dancing class in 1968. He was a 26-year old graduate student in Naval Architecture who had grown up in India as part of the untouchable Dalit caste and had little experience with dating or American customs. She was an undergraduate and, while they dated on several occasions, did not view the relationship as a serious one. Poddar grew infuriated with her attempts at breaking off their relationship to be with other men and became obsessed with her. In his attempts at rekindling their relationship, he became despondent, neglected his studies, was often seen weeping, and generally began acting in a bizarre fashion. He spoke with a friend about blowing up her dormitory room and was advised to seek counseling at the University Health Service.
While Tatiana went to Brazil to spend the summer with an aunt, Poddar attended therapy with a staff psychologist, Dr. Lawrence Moore. Over the course of the treatment sessions, he indicated violent fantasies towards Tatiana including getting a gun and shooting her (while he never named her in the sessions, she was easily identified). Due to concerns about Poddar, Dr. Moore notified campus police who picked him up but later released him after he promised to stay away from Tatiana. Dr. Moore's supervisor, Dr. Harvey Powelson, instructed staff to refrain from making further attempts at hospitalizing Poddar. Poddar never returned to therapy and neither Tatiana nor her parents received any warning that Poddar was a potential threat.
In the weeks prior to Tatiana's return from Brazil, Poddar moved in with her brother who had no idea that he intended any harm to his sister. On October 27, 1969, shortly after her return, Poddar went to her house and stabbed her to death with a kitchen knife. He then called the police and asked to be handcuffed.