Too much bad news locally as the first month of 2016 winds down. A day after the missing teenager from Blacksburg was found dead just over the North Carolina line in Surry County, two Virginia Tech students are in jail — an 18-year-old freshman and a 19-year-old sophomore, both from Maryland.
Violent crime seems to be frequent and reoccurring facts of life around the Tech campus: a record mass murder of students and faculty by an undergraduate; still unsolved deaths of two other students found right after a school year started; a shooting of a police officer a traffic stop on campus followed by a suicide of his killer; a decapitation of one student by another at a food court and other incidents tied to the school.
How has so much violence become part of the culture of a a single university?
In the latest atrocity, police say David Madison Eisenhauer, the freshman charged with murdering 13-year-old Nicole Madison Lovell knew her. He’s now in Montgomery County Regional Jail on first-degree murder and abduction charges.
How a college freshman from Maryland was acquainted with a student at Blacksburg Middle School is unclear at this point,
“Eisenhauer used this relationship to his advantage, to abduct and then kill her,” Blacksburg Police Lt. Mike Albert told Sarah Gregory of The Roanoke Times.
Police are still investigating the full involvement of Natalie Marie Keepers, the 19-year-old Tech sophomore, also from Maryland, and who at Montgomery Regional is jailed on charges of felony improper disposal of Lovell’s body and a misdemeanor charge of accessory after the fact in commission of a felony.
A recent Virginia Tech graduate says there is a “dark side” of life at the school.
“You hear trash talk about gruesome things,” she says. “Some brag about violence they have committed on others.”
Over the years, Virginia Tech has tried to cover up illegal actions of their students, often those who played at athletes in the school’s multi-million dollar sports programs.
When Michael Vick proved his prowess as the school’s football quarterback, area police were zeroing in Vick for his involvement with an illegal and violent dog fighting operation, but the investigation came to a screeching halt when the school’s athletic director showed up at the police station with coach Frank Beamer. They went behind closed doors with the chief, who emerged and told his detectives to close out the investigation.
Vick’s dog fighting operations came to light in his pro days and federal law enforcement discovered that he had been involved in the sleazy and violent sport during his time at Tech. The police chief during that time had retired early after a number of complaints about his obedience to Tech’s coddling of its athletes and the school’s involvement was verified by a number of reports, including a thorough investigation by Sports Illustrated.
Vick went to prison and never regained his pro form after his release. His younger Marcus had frequent run-ins with the law during his time at Tech and Beamer withheld information about one of his arrests from school authorities to keep him on the team for a bowl game where the quarterback, on national TV, was caught on camera stomping an opponent’s hand with his cleats of his football shoe.
Beamer lated admitted concealing Vick’s arrest but was not disciplined by the school.
Blacksburg police chief Kim Krannis replaced the former police department leader and tried to end Tech’s control of the criminal justice system when it involved the school’s students. She retired last year.
When actually caught and charged with crimes, court action of Virginia Tech students, especially athletes, with little punishment. Running back Shai McKenzie spent just 15 days in jail and was ordered to perform 50 hours of community service last year after he was caught having sex with two girls, one 14 and the other 15.
Fellow Virginia Tech student Devin Gavion had sex with the same 14-year-old girl. His charges, however, were reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor charge of “contributing” to the child’s delinquency and got 20 days in jail and 50 hours of community service.
Contrast that with how such crimes are treated in Floyd County, where Circuit Judge Marc Long takes a dim view of those who prey on underage girls. Richard Earl Bishop of Indian Valley man got multiple life sentences, without parole, for multiple rapes of an elementary school student who as 12 and 13.
Is Virginia Tech an institution of higher learning or a crash court of on using “get our of jail” cards for those who affiliated with the university?