Four charged with hazing related to VSU river incident
By Staff Reports
Apr 24, 2013, 16:01
CHESTERFIELD — Police have charged four men with hazing in relation to an incident that lead to the disappearance of two Virginia State University students in the Appomattox River.
Police said seven male VSU students attempted to walk through the river to complete their initiation into an organization known as Men of Honor shortly after 1 a.m. April 20. The current swept the students down river; some were pulled to safety and others drifted to shore. Two students, Marvell Edmondson, 19, and Jauwan M. Holmes, 19, were reported missing.
Around 4 p.m. Monday, Edmonson’s body was recovered from the river. He was a freshman at VSU and a graduate of Churchland High School in Portsmouth. The search for Holmes continues by Chesterfield Police and Fire, Colonial Heights Police and Fire, Virginia State Police and Virginia State University Police.
“We continue to grieve for these two young Trojans,” said VSU President Keith T. Miller in a press release. “We trust this development provides a sense of relief to Marvell’s family and pray for both of our students’ families.” VSU spokesman Tom Reed also said VSU wanted to “express appreciation to the emergency professionals who are so tirelessly conducting this search.”
Four men, James A. Mackey Sr. of Midlothian, Eriq K. Benson of Quinton, Cory D. Baytop and Charles E. Zollicoffer II, were charged Monday with five counts of hazing in relation to the incident. Police say they all are affiliated with Men of Honor, a group that has not been sanctioned by VSU.
Mackey, Benson and Baytop have been arrested and police continue to seek Zollicoffer.
Mackey is owner of Mac’s Grill, a restaurant in Ettrick near the VSU campus, according to a business license issued in 2009. A poster for a Men of Honor basketball game after-party in February lists Mac’s Grill and United Unisex Salon, which is located next door, as sponsors. The contact number on the poster is the same as the number for Mac’s Grill and for the salon.
Mackey was released on his own recognizance and has a court date set for today. Benson has a hearing set for 1 p.m. June 4. Court dates for the other two are not yet available.
Hazing is a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to Virginia Code Section 18.2-56. It says hazing “means to recklessly or intentionally endanger the health or safety of a student or students or to inflict bodily injury on a student or students in connection with or for the purpose of initiation, admission into or affiliation with or as a condition for continued membership in a club, organization, association, fraternity, sorority, or student body regardless of whether the student or students so endangered or injured participated voluntarily in the relevant activity.”
Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable with up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Anyone with information about Zollicoffer’s whereabouts should contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660 or text the code “WATSON” and send to 274637 (CRIMES).