Eight Virginia Commonwealth University students were arrested by police Wednesday and have been charged in connection with the death of Adam Oakes, a Delta Chi fraternity pledge. Three other individuals have been charged, but not yet arrested. Authorities expect them to turn themselves in over the coming days.
The young men arrested are: Benjamin J. Corado (19), Quinn A. Kuby (22), Riley K. MacDaniel (21), Alessandro Medina-Villanueva (21), Jason B. Mulgrew (21), Christian G. Rohrbach (22), Colin G. Tran (20), Enayat W. Sheikhzad (22). Each has been charged with unlawful hazing. Corado and Tran have also been charged with illegal purchase of alcohol. Corado, Kuby, and Tran have been charged with giving alcohol to a minor.
Delta Chi Fraternity Hazing Incident
In a statement, the Oakes family said that they are “grateful for some measure of justice these charges and arrests may produce, as well as the protection from hazing that they may give young, impressionable college students.”
Adam Oakes, a student at Virginia Commonwealth University, died of alcohol poisoning at a fraternity party in Richmond, Virginia.
This is what was known as a “big little reveal” party, in which new members meet their older mentor.
The Oakes family, of Loudon County, Va., says that its understanding is that Oakes was ordered by older fraternity members to drink an entire 1.75 liter bottle of Jack Daniels’ whiskey, at a gathering Friday, Feb. 26. That’s the equivalent of nearly 40 shots.
Witnesses at the party have said that at one point, Oates was blindfolded, and hit his head on a tree. It is not clear whether he became unconscious at that point. He was carried to the couch.
Police were called to the residence, on West Clay Street, at 9:16 Saturday morning, Feb. 27, when Oakes was found unresponsive and face down on a couch. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Response From the Fraternity Office
The Delta Chi fraternity chapter at VCU was suspended almost immediately, both by the University and by the national office of the fraternity In April, VCU began disciplinary proceedings against Delta Chi, “based on multiple reports and allegations of violations of university policies and directives in the hours before the death of VCU student Adam Oakes,” to determine whether to go further.
The national office of the fraternity said: “We were devastated to learn of the death of a student at Virginia Commonwealth University and extend our condolences to the family, friends and everyone touched by this heart-breaking news. The health and safety of our chapter communities is always a top priority for the Delta Chi Fraternity, which suspended the VCU chapter after learning of the incident.”
In March, the family took an active role in pressing for a full investigation. They were concerned that the Richmond police were not pursuing the matter of Adam Oates’ death.
“Do not tell us these are just boys,” the family said in a statement, “Adam was just a boy. He had his whole life ahead of him.”
In May, 12 weeks after his death, the medical examiner ruled that alcohol poisoning was the cause of death. The blood alcohol level was not disclosed.
Only days later, the Delta Chi fraternity was permanently expelled from campus.
The Oakes family put out a statement at that time praising the college for taking a small step toward the reform of Greek life and the transformation of campus culture.
Some Suspects Are Still Unnamed
The statement said that it hoped both VCU and Greek organizations would “truly strengthen anti-hazing practices and enforce them.”
Seven of the suspects arrested this week are being held without bond. One, Sheikhzad, was released.
Names of the three suspects not yet arrested have not yet been made public.