A freshman student told investigators he begged fraternity leaders to get help for Timothy Piazza, but they bullied him into keeping quiet about the pledge who became unconscious after falling down stairs. The frat brothers waited 12 hours before calling 911, too late to save the 19-year-old Penn State sophomore.
Court documents released after a grand jury indicted 18 Beta Theta Pi members in connection with Piazza’s February 2017 death tell a shocking story of the pledge party that ended in tragedy. Piazza and a dozen other new members were forced to walk “the gauntlet,” which involved gulping five alcoholic drinks in two minutes with the goal of getting them drunk “in a very short amount of time.”
Piazza, whose blood-alcohol level was measured at .36 after his death, died from a severe blow to his head, apparently suffered in one of several hard falls in the frat house, according to the coroner’s report.
Although Beta Theta Pi billed itself as a “dry” fraternity — and possession of alcohol could get a brother booted — frat leaders used a “slush fund” to buy $1,200 in booze for the party, according to the Centre County, Pennsylvania, grand jury’s findings.
Along with testimony by several of fraternity pledges, the grand jury watch video from security cameras that show some of the drinking rituals. All of the pledges were under the legal drinking age.
Nancy Grace and Alan Duke discuss the grand jury’s findings in this “Crime Stories” episode.