Investigators withholding cause of death for teen found in fraternity house

MURRAY, KY — Investigators are refusing to release the cause of death for 19-year-old Zach Wardrip, who died inside a Murray State University fraternity house.

Calloway County Coroner Rick Garland says Wardrip’s autopsy and toxicology reports are complete, but Murray police are withholding the information, because they say it’s part of an ongoing investigation. It could be a few more weeks until we know how Wardrip died.

In the meantime, fraternities and sororities at MSU are still not allowed to host any social events. The university says it’s because of multiple incidents that happened during the school year. Through an Open Records Request, we found some of those incidents include alcohol use, hazing allegations, and policy violations.

As part of the suspension, the university has put together a Greek Life Social Standards Committee to investigate current Greek letter groups’ social policies at the school.

MSU President Bob Davies says Greek letter organizations are vital to campus life, and they provide students with leadership opportunities. He says the university is getting some positive feedback on the social suspension decision.

“We will not ban Greek life,” says MSU President Bob Davies. “There are no bans of that whatsoever. And I will say too, from a national perspective, the national fraternities and sororities have actually applauded us in this effort in being proactive and not waiting for other things to happen.”

I asked Davies if he would really call it “being proactive,” because a visitor was found dead inside a fraternity house. He says, “There’s a lot of different things that are going on, and this is not on a one-aspect of any one incident.”

Davies says the university was discussing the suspension before Wardrip was found dead on Sunday, April 29.

The Greek Life Social Standards Committee will meet for the third time later this month. Davies says the goal is to have the suspension lifted by fall semester depending on how the investigation goes and what policy recommendations the committee comes up with.

“I hope the lesson is that these fraternities and sororities take a look at themselves and say, ‘are we living up to our standards and values, are we engaged in what we want to be?'”


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