Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Wade Steffey's Death Deserves Answers


The untimely death of 19-year-old Purdue student Wade Steffey has raised some very troubling questions surrounding his death to which his family and the public are owed some answers. If we are to believe the account of Purdue officials and police, Steffey died the same day he disappeared on January 13 after he unwittingly entered an unlocked door leading to a high voltage utility room of a student dormitory where he died from an electrical shock while feeling his way through the darkened room. Investigators speculate he entered the door late at night in hopes of finding a way into Owen Hall, a dormitory where he had left his coat.

Despite a massive search for Steffey beginning a couple of days after his disappearance, nobody discovered Steffey's body in the utility room, even though officials said the room was searched and K-9 units had been used in the area to search for Steffey. The body was not discovered until March 19 after students returned from spring break after a physical facilities employee was notified of a popping noise eminating from the area of the utility room. This employee was drawn into the room, according to the Purdue's Exponent student newspaper, by a "strange odor" emanating from the room. He discovered Steffey's body just 50 yards from where he had last been seen on January 13. As the Exponent reported on March 21 :


The room in which Steffey was found had been searched once from the inside entrance shortly after he disappeared. Because of poor lighting and the position of the body, however, searchers could not see him from that doorway. Eight K-9 units also failed to uncover the location of the body, despite several searches in the building's vicinity.

Norberg said the odor of the body may have been masked by the odor emitted from the transformers, which is sealed from the inside of Owen by a thick door. The room also maintained a slightly higher temperature than outside, which may have postponed the decomposing process.

If Steffey died from electrocution on January 13, why were no "popping noises" heard for more than two months--the sound of his body grounding the electrical current? Why was the odor not detected during this period of time? How could the outdoor entrance to the high voltage utility room remained unlocked and undetected for more than two months? Why was the outside door to the utility room not marked with the words "DANGER, HIGH VOLTAGE"? Why wasn't there a light switch by the outside door, which would allow someone to turn the lights on without stumbling through the dark searching for the only other light switch near the locked inside door? A cell phone was found with Steffey's body. Were signals not emitted very near this area around the time of his disappearance?

What is even more troubling is a new revelation today that a Purdue maintenance worker found a shoe belonging to Steffey on January 23 just 10 days after he disappeared in the door well leading into the room where his body was found. The AP reports:


A maintenance worker found a shoe belonging to a missing Purdue student near a utility room where his body eventually was found, a spokeswoman for the university said.

But searchers didn't immediately link the plaid-lined slipper to Wade Steffey when it was found on Jan. 23, 10 days after the 19-year-old Bloomington man vanished.

"Obviously, it's something that we wish -- in hindsight -- had made us look more closely," Purdue spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg said Tuesday . . .

Numerous items of clothing were found and stored as potential evidence, Norberg said. The shoe was covered in leaves and debris and looked as if it had been outdoors more than 10 days, she said.

Steffey's parents are not satisfied with what they've learned so far. They've retained an Indianapolis law firm, Montross, Miller, Muller, Mendelson and Kennedy, to represent them in a potential action against the university. Speculation about Steffey's death has been further fueled by Internet rumors about his sexual orientation and whether that could have played any role in his death.

It is clear that Purdue officials and local police badly mishandled the search for Steffey. I only hope the passage of time and the resulting deterioration of the condition of his body over that more than two month period does not remove the possibility of getting the answers his family and the public deserve.

The photo above was taken by the Lafayette Journal and Courier.

40 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have a child at Purdue. According to her, many students are thoroughly upset at the university's handling of this entire situation.

I keep flashing back to the final "death" news conference, in which the parents and this bimbette university spokeswoman appeared. The parents spoke, and the spokeswoman's icy glare toward them was caught on camera. It was unmistakable.

You're a lawyer, Gary...how much negligence is too much?

Advance Indiana said...

The obvious code violations pose liability problems for the university if his death was indeed accidental as the university wants us to believe. There are at least 3 by my count: a) failing to keep the high voltage utility room locked; b) failing to post a warning sign; and c) failing to have a light switch by the door. There seems to be a debate about whether or not he was drinking that night, but I would think it would be difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain his blood alcohol level under the circumstances.

Anonymous said...

One thing that colleges and universities hate are homocides on their campuses and the ensuing nationwide bad publicity. It's not good for business.
It is my belief that his body was dumped in the room they found him in.
Has there been a complete autopsy performed to determine the exact cause of death. Who are the forensic pathologists conducting the autopsy and what are their ties to the university?
This is indeed a strange case.

Advance Indiana said...

The Tippecanoe County coroner's office ruled that his death was accidental, caused by electrocution according to the Star. That same report indicated toxicology reports were ordered; those test results have not been disclosed yet. I believe the coroner there contracts out its forensic pathology work.

Anonymous said...

A few clarifications are in order. From the reports I heard workers had to unlock the door to the transformer room to investigate a problem they were having. Therefore, the door wasn't unlocked and undetected for 2 months.

Yes cell phone signals were detected but you don't get latitude and longitude down to the minutes and seconds with a detection. You get a region around a cell tower. I suspect the cell tower on Slayter Hill was the region and that is caddy corner from Owen Hall. My question is when were those signals detected? I would be surprised if that phone still worked after the electrocution.

Unless those K-9 units had bloodhounds I wouldn't count a typical German Shephard to track days old scent. The fact the K-9 units didn't find anything doesn't surprise me.

Finding stray clothes on a college campus isn't uncommon. Unless you knew what shoes were worn that night I wouldn't be surprised it was ignored.

Though we'll likely never know exactly what happened to Wade Steffey, my first question would be who has the keys to that electrical closet? According to reports only a few people have the keys to get into rooms. Some electrician obviously didn't follow procedure and common sense.

Could Purdue have handled the situation better? I'm sure they could have, but they certainly moved heaven and earth to try and find Wade Steffey when he disappeared. Hidesight is always 20-20.

I'm curious about the lack of warning signs on those doors. Seems like a no-brainer to have them on the doors. Yet if Wade Steffey was drunk and saw any warnings would he have cared and heeded the warnings?

I don't want to demean the tragedy, but it isn't as black and white as it sounds.

Advance Indiana said...

Sorry anon 8:47, the door shown above was unlocked. Only the interior door was locked. From the Exponent:

"Both entrances were supposed to be locked, but police found the outside entrance unlocked. Norberg said police have removed the locks from the doors to determine if they were tampered with or faulty. Police have also replaced locks on outside utility room doors of Wiley and Tarkington halls, similar to the lock used on the outside door of Owen's utility room."

Anonymous said...

The death was unfortunate. However, Purdue and authorities did MORE than required to locate Wade. In fact, I feel they went FAR ABOVE the call of duty!

Now, understanding that I feel sad about the loss, I also feel that this was totally the fault of the victim. Wade had: NO BUSINESS going in there! Marked or not, it was not a place he should have been...and NOBODY with common sense goes into a utility room that has no light, anyway!

Why didn't he go to an entrance, as one would reasonably expect?

(ie: I you buy a cup of coffee, you expect it hot. If you are careless and spill it, it SHOULD burn. NO, it's not the restaurant's fault that they serve hot coffee, it's your fault for being careless or making a mistake!)

I hate it when lawyers take a mistake of one person and try to blame another for it!

In college an important part of the degree is the experience of "learning how to live" and being responsible for one's own actions. In this case there is only ONE person responsible for the sad event, Wade Steffey.

Obob said...

I'm sorry, there is something wrong here. I pray it has nothing to do to constitute a hate crime, but this is Indiana. There is either gross incompetance on part of Purdue or ignorance. Either way, this will cost Purdue a boatload.

E.C.W. said...

Do these dates make any sense?

In an early article, it was reported that his cell phone transmitted signals in the following pattern, showing some kind of *movement* across the campus:

Jan. 12: area around the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity house where he was at a party that night before he disappeared

From Jan 12 to Jan. 17: a "triangular area roughly bounded by Russell Street, State Street and Northwestern Avenue"

After Jan. 17: "The signal then shifted to the location where volunteers searched Saturday [Jan. 20]. That included much of the academic campus, Ross-Ade Stadium, Mackey Arena, a construction site and Cary Quadrangle residence hall, where Steffey lived."

"Investigators were able to use the signal from Wade S. Steffey's cell phone to track its approximate location from Jan. 12 until Wednesday (Jan. 17), when the phone's signal was lost..."

01/20/07 2 AM:

"Steffey's roommate, who returned from a weekend away on Tuesday morning, said he found their Cary Quadrangle dorm room with lights and the Internet turned on. Steffey's shoes sat next to his desk. There has been no confirmed sign of him for a week."

10:29 AM January 23:

"A shoe that police recovered Jan. 23 has been determined to belong to freshman Wade Steffey. The shoe, which is a brown, plaid-lined moccasin, was picked up by Purdue Police at 10:29 a.m. on Jan. 23 ..."

The cell phone emitted signals in other locations through Wednesday, January 17th, which is the day that the signal "shifted" to the area where the shoe was found six days later, on January 23rd, and his body was finally found, on March 19th.

Why wasn't he wearing the shoes he usually wears, and left them next to his desk? Had he gone back to his dorm room to look at his email? Was he wearing his slippers, thinking about going to bed? Why would he head out to Owen with slippers on, after he had already settled in to look at the Internet? Is it really believable that he was just trying to get his jacket back? Even if he had drank something at the party, which people said he hadn't, it had been quite awhile since he left the party -- some of it would have already worn off -- so how drunk could he have been by that time, if he had gone home, switched into slippers, and been looking at email? Is it reasonable to imagine that he would attend a frat party in plaid-lined slippers?

Nobody has mentioned any possibility of hazing rituals?

Have the fraternity brothers issued any comments?

I see all sorts of flippant, negative, and even perverse comments about it on the Internet, and I wonder if anybody is researching the IP addresses to find out if there's any connection with some of these rude and disgusting remarks.

If this were my son, I would pursue it to the absolute limit.

Dave said...

Why don't you just come out and say what you obviously think: that this is some big conspiracy to murder Steffey for being gay and cover it up. All you blog about anymore is every perceived insult to gay people, so why not add nutjob conspiracy theories on top of that?

Your whole post can be summed up in three words: "Hindsight is 20/20." Listing all the possible clues, minute as they may be, after the fact isn't going to help anyone. There is no reason to believe that this was anything other than a tragic accident. An accident that, legal liability issues aside, was mostly his fault. Common sense tells you not to go wandering into dark utility rooms, especially if you are perfectly sober, which all his friends swear up and down that he was.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:28 is obviously the earlier Anon poster, whose university job must be on the line. The slightly hateful streak in the last post is boiled-over frustration.

I wouldn't trust Tippecanoe County authorities for prompt, or accurate information here. The entire region's economy is Purdue-dependent. Coverups are not uncommon if the university's image is at stake.

The whole cell signal geographic boundary thing, is just creepy. The internet and lights on thing is doubly creepy.

FYI, the fraternity house in question is uber-homophobic.

And, the Anon poster got the door-locked thing all wrong.

There is no mistaking that a young kid died way too soon, and it's tragic. If it was negligence, it is proper to assign blame. Some may be his, and some may be the universities. I've served on a PI jury before. That jury determiend fault, ratio of fault among the guilty parties (including the victim), and judged an award accordingly, based on lost income, etc.

Unless I miss my mark, Gary, I doubt an unemployed (albeit student) with no income can be judged to have been "worth" a large amount of money. (Don't jump on me--just asking here) Does Indiana law allow such awards? I didn't think it did.

In cases of gross negligence, Indiana law sure should allow it. But I didn't think the law allowed it.

Advance Indiana said...

Dave, if you can't understand the need to find answers here and are willing to dismiss it as Steffey's entire fault without learning all the facts, that's your right. I don't know that Steffey voluntarily walked into that room that night. I wasn't there. You weren't there. Why are you so sure?

Anonymous said...

Fox 59 interviewed students on campus in a report which aired last night. Students told Fox 59 rumors were running wild and students weren't buying the official account. They think the police and university badly botched the investgiation.

Anonymous said...

Gary,
This may indeed be absurd speculation given the fact that so little is know regarding this case but is it possible to question the forensic results?
Given the condition of the body when found would it not be possible for the pathologist to overlook that the cause of death may have actually been as a result of Autoerotic Asphyxiation?
My guess is that it would be impossible to detect considering the damage done by the high voltage.

Anonymous said...

After reading the comments on the Star's blog after the news broke yesterday, I was amazed at how small minded most of the comments were. Most people don't have a clue how nasty dealing with insuance company lawyers really is, and the years of hell that family wll face trying to get answers.

How about this, the lawyers get together, work for the truth without dragging anyone through the mud, and reach a quick settlement.

How many of you lawyers are laughing right now? Esq this!

Anonymous said...

8:09, the Steffey parents have not hired "insurance company lawyers." They hired PI lawyers.

In our culture, sadly, oft times PI lawyers are the only ones who can get true information, and then only under threat of even larger fiscal awards. You can Bushie-slam trial lawyers all you want, but it's the truth.

Especially so, I'm afraid, when institutions, private or public, start to circle the wagons.

And if you think Purdue hasn't done that, you're sadly mistaken. Honestly, they'd have been better off to say "no comment out of respect to the family" than the silly PR charade they've undertaken so far. Their spokeswoman has all the telegenic compassion of Simon LeGree. If the university mucky-mucks can't see that, they're incompetent.

The wide speculation about this young man's death is due almost entirely to Purdue's botching of the search and the death investigation. Then they put Cruella DeVille in front of cameras to explain their botching. Brilliant.

Think of how it would've come across if the Purdue president had gone on TV and said, simply:

"We know very little about this sad case and we're going to do our best to find answers. Until that time, we decline all comment out of respect to his family. The entire Purdue family mourns with this family."

Wild-ass rumors breed in these kinds of cases; moreso when the official accounts provided are lacking or insincere.

Want real action on this case? Pressure the Purdue trustees. That will get answers quicker. Because everyone works for someone.

Rest in peace, Wade Steffey, if you can.

Advance Indiana said...

anon 7:43, is that your idea of a sick joke?

E.C.W. said...

Take a look at some of the latest posts on boards.courttv.com

Quote: "

FYI, on one of those Lafayette newspaper message boards I linked to, someone mentioned that it was a 'lingerie' party at the dorm, so he had his slippers on. Does that mean he had on his jammies?! But the paper (in a 1st week missing article) said a blue striped long-sleeved shirt and light colored jeans. Hummm. Not adding up, unless he had on jammies underneath, and they didn't say so, or had on boxers that counted as PJs."

One would think that the police would have asked the fraternity attendees what Wade was wearing that night, and that they would have mentioned that it was a 'lingerie party' and that meant some sort of costume, such as bedroom slippers, pajamas, boxer shorts, etc. In January it was pointed out that his shoes were next to his desk, which seemed odd. That, coupled with information that it was a 'lingerie party' should have cued people in to looking for some other kind of shoes. But the media reported him as wearing normal clothing (striped shirt and jeans), and campus searchers (who were told to look for anything he was last wearing) were unaware that he might be wearing something unusual or different.

And when they found a plaid-lined slipper on Jan. 23, the police didn't recognize that it was a slipper, size large enough for a man, and right around the dorm where he was last seen.

Furthermore, it's been pointed out that the original official search of the room in January yielded nothing (they couldn't see him), but the later unofficial opening of the room in March they were mysteriously able to see him, even though they didn't go all the way inside because of the danger. If they weren't able to see him back in January when people were desperately looking for him around the place he was last seen, why were they able to see him in March?

The cell phone was found "on his body" which meant that it was in contact with the electric shock. Is it possible that a cell phone could have continued to emit signals for four more days under this kind of interference and electrical field?

There really are a lot of inconsistencies. It's hard to believe that the university or the police were withholding important information that would have helped people find him. But it does seem clear that some crucial information was overlooked and not properly broadcast. Perhaps the university was hoping he would be found outside the campus and the story would fade away. But their lack of coordination and disssemination of the essential details led to the horror of discovering him in their midst.

How he got in there is the big story.

On couttv, it was said that one of the two girls who last saw him near Owen stated that his shirt was really dirty. Others noted that there were several attacks on campus that night, both before and after his disappearance. Some of the attackers/victims were actually apprehended and questioned, but released. Another person came up with a scenario for how he got into that room, based on those two clues, involving a first assault that resulted in the dirty shirt, then a second assault of some kind resulting in his winding up in that room. Perhaps such a scenario would be worth pursuing.

I am highly suspicious of posters who say "it's all over with" and "let's move on."

These are serious questions that have caused parents all over the U.S. to wonder what's going on, for fear of their own children's safety. I am one of those parents. I'd like to know what happened to Wade Steffey, and why the university and the police did such a shoddy job of trying to find out what happened.

Lance Rasmussen said...

"I wouldn't trust Tippecanoe County authorities for prompt, or accurate information here. The entire region's economy is Purdue-dependent. Coverups are not uncommon if the university's image is at stake."

"Students told Fox 59 rumors were running wild and students weren't buying the official account. They think the police and university badly botched the investgiation."

It's pretty easy to throw unfounded and unproven accusations around. What is more difficult is discovering the truth. Does the fact that a bunch of college kids don't believe the official story mean anything, or is it even surprising? I sure don't think so.

I spent 6 years at Purdue as a student, and I always found the administration, while stuffy and bit elitist, to be competent. It's obvious that mistakes compounded on themselves here to result in Wade's death and the body not being found for ~6 weeks, but I don't see any compelling reason right now to blame anything besides human error.

Gus said...

Typical lawyer reaction: Who can we sue?

It's a terrible tragedy and maybe there were some mishandled elements, but there does not appear to be malicious intent.

Stop stirring up a pot just to make money.

Anonymous said...

Gus, I used to feel that way, too.
Pot-stirring to gin up legal fees is disgusting.

However, in this sorry case, information, and perhaps searches, were badly mishandled by the university. About that, there can be no denial. The university is likely not to have had any hand in Wade's death whatsoever.

That does not mean the investigation and searches weren't muffed. They were. Badly.

Sometimes, the only way you can effect change, and help make sure these things don't go awry again, is to make folks write a check. Sorry as it seems, that's what we've come to.

There were so many opportunities for Purdue to have acted differently here. The tasteful and respectful thing once the body was found would've been "no comment out of respect to the family."

Write the trustees. Demand more for your tax dollar. And if you've got a child at Purdue, demand more from that end, too. It will help.

Anonymous said...

Gary,
I'm anon 7:43 and my post was not meant as a sick joke. On the contrary, it was a serious question. Accidental deaths from AA happen. If this was the case, and I am by no means inferring that it is, then what may have been an accident resulted in panic by the other party or parties involved resulting in the body being placed in the room where it was found to appear as an accident.
We don't know what happened and thus was the basis of my original post. My apologies if I was out of line regarding this as a possibility but AA is not an uncommon occurance. If it indeed did occur the pathologist would, in all liklihood, not have been able to detect it.

Anonymous said...

Why is always the university, the police, the government or someones fault when someone dies. My theory is this kid got drunk at the party, didn't have enough common sense to realize he was somewhere he had no business being there.Then he got Zapped. So,life goes on. "get over it".

E.C.W. said...

I don't buy the notion that Wade Steffey "lacked common sense." Wade was smart and capable. He was not only a top student, but also an experienced martial arts enthusiast, a gregarious and likeable person, and an Eagle Scout which implies a lot about his ability to handle unusual situations. Furthermore, he had an aptitude for technical issues (engineering, aviation studies), and would have suspected that the equipment in that room was dangerous, even without the sign. Probably most of us would.

People who take a rational approach to things prefer to look at the root causes, and not just ascribe events to "happenstance" or "gremlins" or "whatever."

I don't believe that Wade Steffey went into that room by himself. He wasn't stupid, and he didn't lack common sense. And no one has reported that he had a lot of personal baggage that would cause him to do something irrational.

There are enough loose ends here to make us all wonder what the root cause was.

Somebody out there who knows something they are hiding may want us to forget it, but we won't.

E.C.W. said...

The reports have been confusing about whether or not the University did in fact search the utility room back in January. This was reported today in Newslink Indiana (Brian Collins, reporter):

"The residence hall staff did search this particular residence hall, but they did not have keys to this vault,” said Purdue spokeswoman Jean Nordberg. “It was a dangerous area. It was locked. The people who would have had a key are the utility staff, and they are believed to have checked this area as well."

The fact that Nordberg used a hedge-phrase such as "they are *bellieved* to have checked this area" lends suspicion to earlier reports that they checked it.

The reports that said they checked it in January never did explain which door they checked from.

Did the University explicitly tell Utilities Staff to go unlock and and check our that utilities room back in January, or not? Why does Nordberg use the words "believe to have checked" instead of a more definite phrase, demonstrating that they actually *did* check? Why doesn't she know for sure?

If the door could be unlocked on the basis of some unusual sound in March, why wasn't it opened when people were desperately searching for Wade back in January, and already suspecting "the worst" -- wouldn't a utility room be a likely location for someone to hide a body? They were searching student dorm rooms (as if!), so why not search creepy places like utility rooms?

On the other hand, suppose the University actually did explicitly tell the Utilities Staff to search that room. Why would they make the decision not to do it, when they knew everybody was out on campus scrounging around for Wade's traces?

And if they *did* do it back in January, why couldn't they see Wade right where they saw him two months later in March? Was it because he wasn't there yet when they searched in January?

So far, the evidence doesn't seem conclusive that Wade was in there starting Jan. 13th. And his cell phone signal showed a "shifting" pattern across campus during the first few days after he went missing. Was his body being moved around the campus area for some reason until Jan. 17th, or was his cell phone somehow able to give out signals for four days, even though strong electric currents were running through his body and the cell phone?

I'm a parent, and I'd like to know what happened.

Anonymous said...

"How could the outdoor entrance to the high voltage utility room remained unlocked and undetected for more than two months? Why was the outside door to the utility room not marked with the words "DANGER, HIGH VOLTAGE"? Why wasn't there a light switch by the outside door, which would allow someone to turn the lights on without stumbling through the dark searching for the only other light switch near the locked inside door? A cell phone was found with Steffey's body. Were signals not emitted very near this area around the time of his disappearance?"

Why did Steffey enter this room? Why did Steffey choose to walk around in such a dark room? Why did Steffey trespass into an area that is obviously not general building?

I know, I know, personal responsibility is dead in this country. I used to think it was on life support, but after some recent events, personal responsibility died many years ago. Here are some things I can share:

I saw an animal get shocked in a tranformer/power station. The animals was pitch black on the outside. This did cut off power to our area for a while. I am not sure how much voltage, wattage, etc. shocked Steffey, but if it was enough, it likely "cooked" his body. This could be the reason why there was no odor. I have also heard that he was also in a hole type area inside this room. The people in the room (from what I am hearing, it is somewhat 'L' shaped) just looked in and did not walk around.

In the end, this was likely an accident. Since people are more about feelings than common sense, it looks like Steffey's parents have just hit the lottery. For their son's trespass and death, I am sure they will get some big bucks.

Anonymous said...

Now, understanding that I feel sad about the loss, I also feel that this was totally the fault of the victim. Wade had: NO BUSINESS going in there! Marked or not, it was not a place he should have been...and NOBODY with common sense goes into a utility room that has no light, anyway!

How dare you come and demand humans use common sense and personal responsiblity. You must be very evil to demand that folks drive sober, get a job and pay their own way in life, etc. etc.. It is 2007 buddy, time to live for yourself and to hell with everyone else. They will always be there to pay your way. When you go and kill yourself, then the property owner will continue to pay your way. Your relatives will be rich as long as your death is "sad" and could have been prevented if just someone else, anyone, would have done something to prevent you from killing yourself.


"That jury determiend fault, ratio of fault among the guilty parties (including the victim), and judged an award accordingly, based on lost income, etc."

I am sure it will be $100,000,000.00 with Steffey getting like 50% of the blame. So magically this one human life, out of around 6,000,000,000,000 worldwide was magically worth fifty mil. I would say our civil suit system needs an over-haul.

In our culture, sadly, oft times PI lawyers are the only ones who can get true information, and then only under threat of even larger fiscal awards. You can Bushie-slam trial lawyers all you want, but it's the truth.

It would be one thing if PI lawyers helped everyone and only took home around $90K/year. Considering that some make millions and others make well into the six-figure range, I think they care more about money than "justice" or "answers."

Why I don't understand is why folks are upset with the searches more than anything else? Finding him a week earlier, a month earlier, etc. wouldn't magically bring him back. Sorry, but if you have a normal kid go missing for any period of time, you may as well consider them dead. It was obvious the searches were for a body, not a living person. As such, what does it matter if they screwed up? Do I think they screwed up, yes. It goes like this: Chief of police ask his deputy or capt. "Have we searched _everywhere_?" When I ask that question, "everywhere" would mean any place that can hold a body. My guess is that folks who looked in that room did not get the "everywhere." The figured just looking around from the entry was good enough. This is why no "worker" should have searched. The police should have searched. Cut the power, get some flashlights and do a 100% search. Considering they were looking for a body anyway, they should have done a good search of that room. So they screwed up and now taxpayers will bailout Purdue when some blissninnie jury says that Steffey was somehow worth tens of millions.

E.C.W. said...

Look at all the unknowns:

It’s NOT KNOWN whether Wade went into that room voluntarily. Someone else could have brought him there, whether through force, or after he was already dead. The fact that he was *behind* a transformer, against the wall, with his body “hidden” from easy view from the doors, and not in the middle of a room as large as a garage, lends suspicion. Some posters keep saying Wade was doing something wrong, but it’s NOT KNOWN how his body got into that room.

It’s NOT KNOWN whether Wade had alcohol that evening, or if he did, how much, or how much alcohol it would have taken to impede his judgment to such an extent that he would go behind a transformer by the wall of the room instead of moving through the middle of a room as large as a garage. Some students said he had “one drink.” Even if he had 3-5 drinks, would that have been sufficient to cause him to go behind a noisy, dangerous-looking transformer, after he had been out walking in the cold air for some time after the party, and skillfully managed to get over the bars and into the pit to enter the room? Again, it’s NOT KNOWN if he went in there willingly or whether alcohol had anything at all to do with it.

It’s NOT KNOWN when Wade’s body went into that room. Assuming the utilities staff actually looked into the room back in January and did not see him there then (Norberg “believes” they did search, but didn’t see him), and scent dogs did not find his traces around Owen in January, either, it’s possible that he was not in that room until sometime later. The only thing that’s known is that he was there in March when they found him. His cell phone gave off signals on Jan. 12 (around the frat house), then “shifted” locations between Jan. 12-17 (a "triangular area roughly bounded by Russell Street, State Street and Northwestern Avenue"), and on Jan. 17 the signal “shifted” once again, to the area around Owen, and then the signal stopped after Jan. 17. It’s NOT KNOWN why the cell phone signal shifted in that kind of pattern over those dates, but the report was that it did.

It’s NOT KNOWN why Wade’s body wasn’t seen in the utility room back in January, but was seen in March. It’s NOT KNOWN for sure whether or not the University checked the utilities room in January, or which door they looked through, if they did. Norberg “believes” the room was searched by utilities staff, who were the only ones having keys, but he was not seen. Why was he then seen in March? If the door could be unlocked on the basis of some unusual sound in March, why wasn't it opened when people were desperately searching for Wade back in January, and already suspecting "the worst" -- wouldn't a utility room be a likely location for someone to hide a body? They were searching student dorm rooms, so why not search creepy places like utility rooms? Since we don’t know for sure that he *wasn’t seen* in January, then we can’t make an assumption that his body was in there from the start.

We can’t make any assumption that Wade entered the utility room voluntarily, whether alcohol was a factor, or when his body entered the room because of all these ambiguities. Therefore, people who keep posting that Wade was to blame for his own death because he was doing something he shouldn’t have been doing have absolutely no basis whatsoever for saying such a thing, and in fact such people are highly suspicious for continuing to post on here and insist that Wade was to blame for his own death.

Who are these people? Do they know something they are trying to cover up? Are they university staff trying to protect their jobs? Are they perpetrators?

curious said...

Does anyone know if Wade had any contact with or interest in any occult or off-beat religious groups?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:35, thankfully, your view of the world is not in the majority.

Nobody knows how Wade got into this vault, or if he was there on the day he disappeared, or if his body was put there later. Plenty of questions are left. The university's response is definitely defensive and circling the wagons, for good reason.

Someone give that Nordberg woman the hook.

Anonymous said...

Therefore, people who keep posting that Wade was to blame for his own death because he was doing something he shouldn’t have been doing have absolutely no basis whatsoever for saying such a thing, and in fact such people are highly suspicious for continuing to post on here and insist that Wade was to blame for his own death.

Who are these people? Do they know something they are trying to cover up? Are they university staff trying to protect their jobs? Are they perpetrators?


I am not with the university at all. I am only saying Steffey is to blame because of what info is said to be official facts: That this was an accident and that he died from electric shock.

Your goal at trying to claim a murder fits your logicial assumptions as well. You DO NOT know that he was tossed/shoved in the room. You DO NOT know that someone else caused his death. In the end, you know as much as the rest of us, so take some of your own medicine.

E.C.W. said...

Anon 8:23 PM "I am only saying Steffey is to blame because of what info is said to be official facts: That this was an accident and that he died from electric shock."

The university and the police have *guessed* that it was an accident. The university is *claiming* it was "an accident." Perhaps that was their "official" statement, but it is not a "fact."

A fact is something that can be proven. The university cannot prove it was an accident. The facts aren't all in, not nearly.

No one yet has been able to prove that Wade's death was "an accident," nor that the event that precipitated his death was electric shock.

That's why we will keep on asking the questions. I suspect some of the answers will be forthcoming, and more that is unknown will become KNOWN.

Anonymous said...

The last post is exactly correct. This could be suicide, murder, accident, or a combination of some of the above.

Given Purdue's gigantic effing up of this whole thing, I am not prone to accept anything they say. Particularly in the manner they've said it. Very self-serving.

I am a Purdue parent. And I've written the trustees. There's your pressure valve. If they get enough letters and calls, I gauran-damn-tee you there will be movement on this case.

Write them. Their names and addresses are readily available at:
www.purdue.edu/trustees

curious said...

This article states that one of Wade's shoes was found outside the electrical room on Jan 23 and that when his body was later found it was missing one shoe. I can't think of a simple explanation for one of his shoes being outside the room if he really walked in the room as is claimed.

http://www.purdueexponent.org/index.php/module/Section/section_id/17?module=article&story_id=5018

curious

curious said...

Here is that article link again in shorter form:
http://tinyurl.com/yosa4y

E.C.W. said...

I agree with you about the shoe situation. If he had been out walking around in the cold air for awhile, and had the coordination to get himself over the rails and into the pit, it doesn't seem likely that he would continue without his shoes on both feet.

He had his cell phone with him, and students freqently use their cell phones as a flashlight. If he had lost the shoe, he would have searched for it and found it even if it was dark, because it was right in front of the door. Wade was known to be particular about his person and clothing (as stated by family members).

If he were trying to escape from people pursuing him, or if people carried him in there unconscious, then that might explain how the shoe got left in front of the door.

One of the key clues I remember reading on another site was that one of the two girls who were the last people who saw him just northwest of Owen remarked that his shirt was very dirty (mud) on the front of it. Someone else specualted that perhaps he was being followed by people with whom he may have had an altercation just before that, and they later caught up with him. The speculation was brought on by the earlier reports of altercations on campus both before and after he disappeared. I believe that at least one party to the altercations was apprehended and questioned, but released.

There have been no further updates on any of these matters, and I can only assume that authorities are keeping mum until they have investigated further -- I just hope they are. If they aren't, then perhaps the detectives and law firm that his parents have hired will do the job and find out more about what is unknown. I hope his parents find the courage and support to undertake a thorough investigation, and that the university and police will offer their full cooperation in earnest, to reveal more about what actually happened that night. A lot of students and parents are worried, and justly so.

E.C.W. said...

Just a thought .. pure speculation .. *if* people had pursued Wade and he jumped into the pit, found the door to the utility room open and entered in haste without his shoe; and *if* the pursuers also entered the room and there was some further altercation (fist fight), I could see how Wade could have been thrown against one of the transformers and fallen against the wall, without electrocution to the pursuers themselves, who would then have escaped out the open door.

*If* this were the case, then there are people out there who know something and haven't been apprehended yet. They may be reading these blogs diligently to keep track of developments, and may even be entering negative posts to dissuade others from continuing the search for more evidence.

If this speculative scenario has any merit, then it would be the police who would have some information about the attacks on campus before and after Wade's disappearance, and the one party that they apprehended and questioned.

So far, this is the best speculative scenario I can think of. But more facts are required in order to gain a better understanding of what really happened. Most importantly, the cooperation of the university and police is essential, and Wade's parents need to find the strength to pursue a full investigation.

curious said...

My view is, according to what has been publicly stated, that there is ample reason to suspect foul play in Wade's death.

1. the shoe situation (this alone, actually)
2. Wade being seen with muddy shirt that night
3. One or more assault type incidents reported on campus at around the same time as his disappearance

These three points would obviously suggest that the utility room should be treated as a possible crime scene. Yet, I've seen no report of a CSI-type investigation having been done there.

I am reminded of South Park's Officer Barbrady shooing people away saying, "Nothing to see here, folks. Nothing to see."

curious

Anonymous said...

Where is the jacket that Wade Steffey was supposed to be retrieving?

Tiki said...

According to Norberg the jacket was turned over to detectives. They reported that there was nothing in the pockets.