A freshman fraternity member at Washington State University — where accused mass killer Bryan Kohberger was a PhD student — has been found dead in a dorm room amid claims he suffered “inhumane and cruel” hazing.
Police responded on Jan. 22 to Perham Hall on the Pullman campus, where they discovered Luke Morgan Tyler dead, the Spokesman-Review reported.
WSU Assistant Police Chief Dawn Daniels told campus newspaper the Daily Evergreen that investigators were awaiting the Whitman County coroner’s autopsy to determine the cause of death but that there were no indications of foul play.
Tyler was a member of the Theta Chi fraternity, his friend Emmelie Frausing told the Spokesman-Review.
An online petition organized by a group of Tyler’s friends called for the fraternity to be investigated.
“His death directly followed a long and cruel pledging process allowed by his fraternity, Theta Chi. Their inhumane and cruel hazing forced Luke, and many others to do things nobody should ever be forced to do,” the petition says.
“We demand that Theta Chi be investigated, shut down and the fraternity’s president, as well as pledge masters and others with power in the fraternity be investigated for their involvement with the death of Luke Tyler,” it adds.
Erin Lasher, assistant director for the Center for Fraternity and Sorority Life, wrote in an email to the Greek community that “these situations evoke a variety of emotions; sadness, confusion, fear, anger.”
She added: “We know that in these circumstances, it’s hard to make sense of what has happened. All of us want to help, and we can feel lost on how to do so.”
The WSU Interfraternity Council, which oversees the fraternal groups at the school, declined to comment to the Spokesman-Review.
WSU spokesman Phil Weiler said “there has been a significant amount of conjecture regarding the circumstances surrounding this incident and the actual cause of the student’s passing,” KREM reported.
“I would caution the public against speculation at this point in the investigation. The facts in this case are still being gathered. It could be several weeks before the coroner’s office determines the cause and manner of death. We want to ensure that the investigation can proceed unimpeded,” he added.
In a statement, WSU Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton said she was “heartbroken over the student death that occurred in a residence hall on our campus over the weekend. The loss of a member of our Cougar family creates a tremendous loss for all of us, and I want to extend my deepest condolences to the student’s family, friends, classmates, and fellow Cougs.”
Chilton said the school “has a strict protocol to follow with procedures that were put in place out of respect for both the families and the investigative process.”
She added: “WSU Pullman will not release any information about the individual until details have been coordinated with the family and the Whitman County Coroner’s Office. We will always maintain a high level of respect for both the families and investigative process, and will not disclose any information that could inadvertently disrupt this process.”
A GuFundMe campaign for Tyler’s family has raised over $11,000 by Monday morning.
“Every person who came across Luke would say that he was one of the most sincere and kind individuals they have met. We want to ensure that his name is not forgotten, and to assist his family in these impossibly trying times,” the account says.
Tyler’s death occurred about 10 miles away from where Kohberger — a former criminology PhD student at WSU — allegedly knifed four University of Idaho students to death in their off-campus home in Moscow, Idaho.
Kohberger was arrested Dec. 30 and charged with four counts of first-degree murder and one count of burglary in the deaths of Madison Mogen, 21, Kaylee Goncalves, 21, Xana Kernodle, 20, and her boyfriend Ethan Chapin, 20.
The university assured students in the wake of the arrest that Kohberger was no longer enrolled, but added that “we recognize some of you may still have questions about safety on campus” and directed them to reach out to campus police.