Student's blood alcohol level found to be above legal limit

By Leigh Faulkner, Collegian Staff

Junior Adam G. Prentice's blood alcohol level was found to be above the 0.08 legal limit for drunk driving in Massachusetts, according to alcohol toxicology reports released yesterday.

UMass officials are still awaiting toxicology reports about whether Prentice was using drugs at the time of his death.

Luippold, who received the information from the state chief medical examiner, said the medical examiner would not release the exact amount due to policy. Prentice, 21, of Hyannis, died of massive bleeding after he fell through the roof of a campus greenhouse during homecoming weekend.

His death is the third alcohol–related death on college campuses since the end of August.

A fraternity student at Louisiana State University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology freshman Scott Krueger both died from binge drinking.

Krueger died on Sept. 29 after spending three days in an alcohol induced coma.

In light of Prentice's toxicology reports, University Chancellor David K. Scott has put an immediate ban on the consumption of alcohol during tailgating at football games, according to a press release issued yesterday from the University News Office.

An alcohol ban was in place from 1988–1992 for all tailgating events but was lifted on a trial basis five years ago.

Last Thursday, Scott said UMass would begin re-examining its alcohol policies after receiving many complaints about alcohol related behavior during Homecoming tailgating, plus the deaths of the MIT and LSU students.

Scott has named Associate Chancellor Susan Pearson to head a task force examining policies and solutions for alcohol use and abuse. He asked Pearson's task force to have recommendations about campus alcohol polices to him within six weeks.

"The use and abuse of alcohol is a problem on campuses throughout the country, and ours in no exception," Scott said. "With the new information that alcohol could have played a part in Adam Prentice's death, we must intensify our efforts to take all actions possible to ensure the safety and well–being of our students, faculty and staff."


The next article covers a speaking engagement I held before the UMass student senate. They asked me to speak in May, 1998.
 

SGA hears from mother of deceased student

By Jill Carroll, Collegian Staff

Barbara Prentice spoke to the University of Massachusetts Student Government Association (SGA) last night concerning her son's death in September.

Prentice asked the SGA to inform students about her son's death and bring forth evidence surrounding the incident.

"I hope you'll take the time to spread information to others because it might really be the piece that fits the puzzle," Prentice said.

According to the police report, Adam Prentice died due to blood loss during Homecoming weekend after falling through a Morrill Greenhouse roof.

Ms. Prentice felt there were problems with the investigation of her son's death.

"At 1:30 a.m., the UMass police department found Adam collapsed on the grass outside the greenhouse. No one has ever identified Adam as having been inside of the greenhouse," Prentice said.

Ms. Prentice said it was improbable that Adam fell through a greenhouse roof.

"Indeed the physical evidence remaining, which is his body, had no cuts scratches or punctures aside from the eight inch stab wound to his back. I believe it is most improbable Adam fell through glass then busted out of glass [onto the greenhouse lawn] and only received one cut on his entire body," Prentice said.

Ms. Prentice stated that according to the medical examiner, alcohol was not a factor in her son's death.

"The medical examiner listed the official cause of death in both the autopsy and the death certificate as a stab wound of glass that lead to massive loss of blood. There is absolutely no mention of alcohol playing a role in his death. This was not an alcohol-related death," Prentice said. "The facts prove Adam was more injured than not, rather than more loaded than not."

Ms. Prentice said Adam had a blood alcohol level of .012.

"Shortly after his death, the medical examiner released that his blood level was only .012 so I want to assure you that the ban on alcohol was not due to my son," Ms. Prentice said.

Ms. Prentice felt foul play was the reason for Adam's death.

"I believe a more probable explanation for his death is foul play," Ms. Prentice said.

Ms. Prentice felt she was not notified in time about the incident.

"I was not notified about this incident until the doctor who pronounced him dead called at 4:30 a.m. and told me Adam was dead, then suggested that I call the University police for details. Upon calling the University, I was put on hold for ten minutes by officials, then told I would have to call back because the investigating detective didn't have any information," Ms. Prentice said.

Student trustee Brian Tirrell said the incident was an example of students being violated.

"Things like this when they perceive 'oh he's just a drunken student' they don't give him proper medical attention he could have been given and that's the kind of thing that can happen. Students at parties are beaten without provocation. It happens it really does," Tirrell said.

President of the SGA Salwa Shamapande recommended starting a coordinating council to look into the processes of the investigation of Prentice's death.

"I'm possibly going to call a coordinating council or something. We owe it to her son as a fellow student to find out about the processes about certain things," Shamapande said.

In other business during the meeting, the SGA held elections for the speaker and associate speaker for next year.

Lisa Cook was elected speaker and Jodi Bailey was elected associate speaker.

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Cape Cod Times logo

The Cape Cod Times is my local, hometown newspaper. It has written many articles about Adam; some have inaccuracies, which I will point out. The article below describes the UMPD investigation as "extensive." Unfortunately, the journalist wrote this story after talking briefly by telephone with a UMPD detective. I was willing and available to share the holes in the police report, but was never consulted. To date, no Cape Cod Times journalist has ever interviewed me regarding the many unanswered questions my investigation has unraveled.

Graffiti at UMass linked to death of Adam Prentice


AMHERST - Police at the University of Massachusetts are investigating a graffiti incident related to the death two years ago of a Centerville undergraduate.

Graffiti was found on the Morrill Science Center Greenhouse last month. The greenhouse is where Adam Prentice died on Sept. 27, 1997. The police say he fell into the greenhouse, was badly cut and bled to death.

"It was written by someone who knew about Adam," said UMass police Chief John Luippold. "We would like to speak with that individual."

Luippold would not disclose the contents of the graffiti, which was quickly removed from the greenhouse.

But Prentice's mother, Barbara Prentice, said the graffiti was a birthday greeting. Prentice would have turned 23 on Aug. 17. The graffiti was reported to UMass police on Aug. 20.

Since then, graffiti relating to Prentice has been found in other areas of the campus.

The extensive investigation into Prentice's death, both by UMass police and Prentice, has not turned up any witnesses or definitive explanations.

But Prentice believes her son was the victim of foul play and that UMass police dismissed the incident as alcohol-related. As part of an autopsy, Prentice's blood alcohol level was found to be .012, making him legally intoxicated.

She does not believe Prentice, whose injuries consisted of an eight-inch stab wound on his back and bruises on his wrist, could have fallen through the greenhouse glass without suffering other cuts.

Prentice's search for answers regarding her son's death is still ongoing. Shortly after his death, she began a grass-roots petition which asked that the investigation be taken out of the hands of the UMass police, and has testified before Congress.

Another Cape Cod Times article appears below. This one states incorrectly that Adam died from a stab wound to his neck; the stab wound was to his back.

 

Tragedy recalled

Play raises issues about student's death

By LAURA FORSTER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

AMHERST - Valerie Lynch is graduating from the University of Massachusetts in two weeks. But before she goes, she has a question to ask of the campus and community. As the writer of the play "What Happened to Adam Prentice?" playing in the UMass Curtain Theater until Sunday, Lynch raises questions about the death of her childhood friend Adam Prentice, a Hyannis resident and Barnstable High graduate.

Prentice died at the age of 21 on Sept. 27, 1997 at the Amherst campus. Police say he was walking on a greenhouse roof after a night of partying when he fell through the glass. Police said his blood alcohol level was above .08, the legal limit for driving.

The cause of death was listed as accidental - a loss of blood suffered from an eight-inch wound in his neck. But since his death, his mother, Barbara Prentice of Centerville, has been on a crusade, claiming foul play was involved. University of Massachusetts campus police and the local district attorney deny that.

It is the police investigation and how Mrs. Prentice has dealt with her son's death that constitute the plot of Lynch's play.

As a theater and elementary education major, Lynch's play is part of her senior honors thesis project. However, Lynch's reason for writing the play were not academic. Although Lynch was studying abroad in Spain at the time of Prentice's death, she has come to believe strongly in making other students aware of the case.

"It's hard to deal with the material every day, and the reality of it is pretty gruesome, but for me it's more important other people know," she said.

Prentice and Lynch became friends in the sixth grade and their friendship lasted through Barnstable High School until their time at UMass together.

She says her 15-minute play, with a cast of seven, focuses on material from the investigation she says most people are not aware of.

Barbara Prentice has questioned why police called the incident an attempted break-in, and if that influenced how they responded to Adam's medical plight; she has asked why the scene was clean up without evidence being gathered.

"This is a subject which, when it comes up, everyone has an opinion. I've had a lot of students say his mom should get over it... I just hope the play changes people's idea of what really went on."
UMass Police Chief John Luippold says that the investigation is still open and the police have given Mrs. Prentice "quite a bit of information. We've continued to keep abreast of what we've found in the case in regards to possible leads."

"If her play generates a new lead, we welcome her," Luippold said of Lynch.

Supportive of Lynch's play about her son's death, Mrs. Prentice hopes it will help to accomplish her purpose in finding answers.

"My point is for other parents not to go through this, and even for other students to know what could happen to them on campus," she said.


Barnstable Patriot logo

The Barnstable Patriot journalist who interviewed me for this article told me that his paper didn't want to "ruffle any feathers" when I met with him to review the many inconsistencies with the crime scene photographs and police report. I have always thought that journalism was an honest profession; one that strives to tell the truth, regardless of politics. But is it really?

http://barnstable-patriot.com/03-26-98-news/prentice.html

 
Bill Bickel is a seasoned writer who has always had an interest in crime. His site, Crime and Punishment, is dedicated to profiling unsolved crimes and tragedies. Adam's case was included in an online chat when Crime and Punishment hosted a segment on campus safety.You can read the introduction to my online chat here: http://alcoholism.about.com/b/a/031825.htm

The actual chat between the host, myself, and other guests who have lost a loved one while at college is here. I am introduced about half way down:

http://crime.allinfoabout.com/missing/adam.html

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The article below is from the Associated Press, and ends with the inaccurate reporting I have to relive over and over again.

Southcoast Logo

Alcohol arrests rise at UMass

By The Associated Press

AMHERST -- The police chief for this University of Massachusetts campus yesterday said tougher enforcement is partly responsible for a fivefold increase in the number of drinking arrests. Chief John Luippold Jr. cautioned that it is not clear if the rising number of arrests actually reflect any increase in illegal behavior.

Alcohol arrests on campus increased from 14 in 1996 to 74 in 1997, according to Luippold. There were 37 such arrests in 1995 and 79 in 1994.

Luippold said campus police have been begun using portable devices to measure alcohol on the breath and are collaborating more with authorities in nearby communities. However, he said the higher number of arrests in 1997 also stems in part from normal yearly variations in difficult-to-quantify factors, like the weather.

A 1990 federal mandate requires campus police to collect and publicly distribute the arrest figures. Luippold said the 1997 rise does not seem to stem from a campus crackdown on alcohol violations. Many of the arrests were made in the spring, before some alcohol-related incidents at this campus and others last fall prompted the crackdown.

Most of the 1997 arrests were for under-age possession or transport of alcoholic drinks. Twenty-one is the legal drinking age in Massachusetts.

Despite the large increase in number of arrests, dormitory drinking violations rose only slightly from 1995 to 1997.

In the 1995-96 school year, there were 1,386 reported dormitory violations, according to Assistant Dean of Students Paul Vasconcellos. That number rose to 1,456— a 5 percent increase — the next school year. Last year's numbers are still being tallied, but are projected to remain about the same.

"We're in a position to observe people on every floor," Vasconcellos said, referring to the campus staff of residence assistants. "We've had some tragedies on campus, but I don't think there's been a dramatic change in the residence hall numbers."

However, he added that the dormitory numbers are still "pretty high" and justify concern. The Chronicle of Higher Education recently cited a 10 percent rise in alcohol arrests on campuses nationally in 1996. It quoted campus police and college officials as saying the rise reflected stronger enforcement, not more drinking.

Myra Kodner, a staffer at the watchdog group Security on Campus, attributed the higher number of arrests reported nationally to the government mandate requiring that campus police keep closer tabs on the trend.

"You don't necessarily know that it's an increase," she said. "They (now) have to report things that were hidden."

University of Massachusetts administrators have been trying to draw more campus and public attention to drinking abuses as the school year begins. They have vowed to act more swiftly to make students who break drinking rules undergo education or counseling. They sent letters to all 18,000 undergraduates, advising them of the rules going into effect this fall.

At the Amherst campus last fall, a student fell through a greenhouse roof in what authorities described as an alcohol-related death. A student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology died of alcohol poisoning after drinking at a fraternity.

 

RAIL is another student-run newspaper on campus at UMass. They ran the article below about eighteen months after Adam's death.

So who killed Adam Prentice?

by RAIL

As far as RAIL is concerned, the UMass cops killed Adam Prentice on September 27, 1997. When they encountered a badly bleeding white young man smelling like alcohol laying next to a broken window at 1am, they just said: criminal.

With an 8-inch piece of glass coming out of Prentice's back, the police decided that appropriate medical treatment was a pair of handcuffs. If Prentice had been Black or Latino, might treatment have been a boot to the head? Prentice was only sent to the hospital at 4 a.m., where he died shortly thereafter of a loss of blood. Cops have medical training and for anyone else to withhold medical treatment that results in death would be manslaughter at least.

One certainly has to ask questions about the police's motives in their "investigation" when they told Adam's friends he was alone and THEN asked for information. The police badly want the official memory of Prentice to disappear, although they are quite content to let fear mongers run amuck.

The Campus Center Administration is using Prentice's death in a two-pronged way. First, as poster-boy against drinking on campus. RAIL opposes substance abuse, but beyond that doesn't get involved in discussions about one leisure time activity as compared to another. We think people should focus on leisure less, and revolution more. But the school's problem with drinking is that its students getting together in a fashion unscripted by the school. Secondly, while the campus police publicly brag about how safe the campus is, they manipulate students to cry "Fear!" and demand more police, call boxes, cruisers, etc.

 

Maury Povich logoThe article below is a review of the Maury Povich show on Campus Crime and Coverup I appeared on in March, 1998:

AMERICA'S SECRET EMPIRES
Are Colleges above and beyond the press and the law?

NEW YORK CITY—A nationally syndicated television show took the first step today of delving into the secrecy of universities that appear to be hiding a rising campus crime rate from alumni, parents and students.

"I think it's incredibly dangerous," said a former editor of a college newspaper on a Maury Povich Show entitled: "Covering Up College Crime."

Jennifer Markiewicz told host Maury Povich that universities report "zero crimes or only two rapes, when really there are hundreds of rapes going on, on a yearly basis."

"This is a story that is simmering; it's even boiling," Povich said, "but not many persons are taking notice of it. Why is that?" he asked Markiewicz.

"Because the universities are doing such a good job of covering it up," the former college editor said, "They are very image-conscious. There's big money involved here."

Guests on the show said it is difficult to find out if there is violence on the campus where you would like to send your child, even if you ask for the reports. They are often falsified or inaccurate, some guests said.

When asked if it was difficult to report crimes on campus in the college paper, Markiewicz answered, "Absolutely." Even after winning an appeal to the state supreme court, she added, she still had not yet received the records from campus courts.

Maurice and Janet Baker told Povich their daughter, also a campus editor, had received threats after investigating campus rapes. She was later found a few blocks from her journalism lab, they said, stabbed to death.

A daughter of a famous athlete told Povich that, after she was raped by two men, evidence was not taken because campus police "had no idea what to do. My mom was hysterical," she said, "she wanted the outside police to come in, and they told her that no outside police would be coming in. They were the police on that campus."

Another guest, Barbara Prentice, told Povich "the only investigators of my son's death have been the campus police. The town police and the state police have not been active parties in the investigating. Campus police determined on their own," she said of the mysterious death, "that it was an accident. They cleaned the scene without even preserving it. They took no forensic evidence at all."

"Campus police," Prentice added, "have a double agenda; you cannot serve two masters. Their main responsibility is to cover the reputation of the university, not the safety of the student."

Some viewers of the national show were surprised to learn that universities had such power over the police and press.

With such absolute power, one viewer said, we can only expect our colleges to be "corrupted absolutely."

Others expressed the worry that such power and secrecy might even encourage and attract more criminals to campuses where they may be confident that they can get away with it.

Details of the Maury Povich Show, which aired on 7/13/98, are available from Burrelle's Transcripts for $6 by check, $9 by credit card, or by phoning
800-777-8398 (toll free) and asking for
Covering Up College Crime.