A freshman fraternity pledge has been found dead in his dorm under suspicious circumstances — at the very same college where accused Idaho killer Bryan Kohberger had been a PhD student in criminology.
Last Monday, police in Pullman responded to a call about a body at Perham Hall on the campus of Washington State University. The deceased young man has since been identified as first-year WSU student and Theta Chi fraternity pledge Luke Morgan Tyler (pictured above, left).
Of course, WSU is the same school where Kohberger studied up until the end of this past semester when he was arrested for allegedly killing four University of Idaho students just a few miles away across the state line. So, suffice to say, WSU students are already on edge right now as that case has been progressing.
In looking into Tyler’s death, WSU authorities are cautioning students to let the investigation run its course. According to student-run newspaper Daily Evergreen, WSU assistant police chief Dawn Daniels said campus cops are waiting on a coroner’s autopsy to determine Tyler’s official cause of death. In the meantime, she claimed to the paper there are “no indications” of foul play so far in the case.
Tyler’s friends aren’t so sure. In an online petition seeking support for the late college student, grieving friends accused Theta Chi of “a long and cruel pledging process” that Tyler and other fraternity hopefuls were put through. The petition demanded WSU investigate the fraternity immediately:
“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. 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.”
University officials don’t appear to be taking that angle on the investigation, though — at least not yet. The school’s assistant director in charge of fraternity and sorority life, Erin Lasher, sent an email to the Greek community after Tyler’s death and pleaded for calm as authorities investigate:
“These situations evoke a variety of emotions; sadness, confusion, fear, anger. 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.”
And a university spokesperson asked for mourning students to take a step back, too. In another message to university attendees that was first reported by KREM, spokesperson Phil Weiler wrote:
“There has been a significant amount of conjecture regarding the circumstances surrounding this incident and the actual cause of the student’s passing. 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.”
That still hasn’t stopped students from worrying about the shocking and unexpected death. After a week of concern over what happened in that dorm room, WSU was forced to release even more statements to placate the students. Chancellor Elizabeth Chilton shared this message with the campus, per the New York Post:
“[I am] 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.”
Chancellor Chilton also further cautioned students against jumping to conclusions about Tyler’s death:
“[The college] has a strict protocol to follow with procedures that were put in place out of respect for both the families and the investigative process. 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.”
Still, with the shocking allegations against Kohberger only recently coming to light, isn’t it at least a little understandable that students are worried about an unexpected death in Pullman??
As Tyler’s peers continue to grieve, they have set up a GoFundMe page in his name. In the online memorial fundraiser, they wrote about their late, beloved friend:
“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.”
As of Wednesday, that fundraiser has taken in more than $11,000 meant to defray expenses for his funeral. You can support it HERE.
See more on the shocking case (below):
Such a young person with a full life ahead. So sad! We send our condolences to Luke Tyler’s family, friends, and loved ones during this awful time.