10 Of The Most Scandalous Fraternity Hazing Deaths
Fraternities are seemingly as old as the humankind. Well, they started gaining in popularity in the 19th century and members of fraternities often stay friends, or as they say – brothers, for life. There’s been an alarming number of reported cases of deaths and severe accidents that shed a dark light on these college communities. Some of them even cause the police and authorities to take the involved to court, put them to jail and sometimes even ban fraternities completely. We’ve compiled a list of the worst hazing scandals in the history which is guaranteed to shock you.
Cornell’s Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity was special in a way that the young members would haze older members. Back in 2011, George Desdunes and one of his fellow Cornell sophomores were kidnapped and blindfolded with their wrists and ankles bound with duct tape and zip ties. During the night, Desdunes and his friend were forced to answer questions about the fraternity for each question they got wrong they would get fed a shot of vodka.
At some point they were also fed some other substances, such as chocolate powder, strawberry syrup and hot sauce, and when the fun wore off their kidnappers left them to go play beer pong. Desdunes was found the next morning by the college staff and by the time they got to him he was dead. His blood alcohol content was 0.35 which is considered lethal and his mouth was filled with vomit. The kidnappers were all acquitted of charges but the fraternity had to pay a fine of $12,000.
23-year-old Jack Ivey was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma at the University of Texas at Austin. Jack was dared into a drinking contest with another member while he was given rum and the other person was provided with water to drink. His BAC when the police found him was 0.46, much higher than it should ever be. After they got him drunk, his fraternity buddies tied him to the back of a car and drove around until they were bored and he was dead.
Samuel Mason died of alcohol poisoning while he was still under the legal drinking age. He was dared to drink a whole bottle of liquor during his initiation into Tau Kappa Epsilon. He died from alcohol poisoning after vomiting and passing out. When they measured his BAC during the autopsy, it was 0.48, six times the legal limit. In the end, six of the members of fraternity went to jail for his death, but it was only for a year or two.
The case of Stuart Pierson goes back to 1905 and it was one of the first hazing scandals that got recognized country-wide. Stuart was eager to join Delta Kappa Epsilon at Kenyon College and during his initiation he was taken into the forest and was killed by a train.
The engineer of the train didn’t see anything, and it wasn’t until they arrived at their next stop that they saw blood on the train. At the same time, fraternity members found Stuart’s corpse and returned him to the college. What is probably the real truth is that Stuart has been tied to the tracks and fell asleep on the tracks.
Michael Davis was brutally murdered in a hazing ritual while he was a pledge for Kappa Alpha Psi (KAP) in Southeast Missouri State University. As a part of his initiation, he was brutally beaten over a period of several hours and later died from internal injuries. The body was so badly beaten he was almost unrecognizable.
Joseph T. Green
Joseph T. Green joined the Tennessee State University in Antioch after serving in the navy. He joined the OPP fraternity and tragically died during hazing. He was in extremely good shape and his death came as a surprise to everyone. After a lot of questioning, the police found out that he had asthma and he died from an acute asthma attack while he was pushed to his limits and forced to run without stopping in extreme heat.
Van L. Watts
Another case from Omega Phi Psi at Tennessee State University is the one of Van L. Watts from 1983. The cause of his death was both alcohol and a severe beating. His BAC was five times above the legal limit and his body was littered with bruises. He was beaten with wooden sticks as a way of branding him by other members of the fraternity.
University of Miami’s fraternity used quite eccentric ways to punish and test their pledges. In 2001, the 18-year-old Char Meredith died after first getting severely drunk and then jumping into a cold, dark lake. He was then forced to swim further in and when he felt the nausea hit him, he stopped and called for help, but no response came. His body was found the next day at the bottom of the lake. Meredith’s family received $14 million in the settlement.
Benjamin Klein didn’t die from alcohol or beating during his initiation or regular fraternity hazing practices. His case is unique because he killed himself after outing several details of Zeta Beta Tau’s hazing practices. Before his alleged suicide, Klein was restrained and severely beaten by ZBT members which included tying him up with duct tape, hitting him on the head and turning the shower on while he was still tied up. He committed suicide three days later.
Chi Tau’s initiation rituals were so widely known and so horrible that the week when they occurred was known as Hell Week around the Chico University. Matthew Carrington died after being forced to perform severe physical activities for long hours and then drinking huge amounts of water after which he was placed in a sleeping bag. He died from exhaustion and when the fraternity members went to check on him, he was no longer breathing. The cause of death was hyponatremia, or water intoxication.