Deaf Student Stabbed to Death at University

ByABC News
February 5, 2001, 7:21 PM

W A S H I N G T O N, Feb. 5 -- Questions abound, but there are still no answers in a stabbing death at the nation's premier university for the deaf, the second murder in the same dormitory in only four months.

The case of 19-year-old Gallaudet University freshman Benjamin Varner has left the campus in fear. Varner was found dead with multiple stab wounds to the head, neck and chest in his fourth floor room in Cogswell Hall early Saturday morning.

"There was nothing but sweetness in this boy," the young man's father, Willie Varner, told reporters on campus this afternoon. "This was a super, kind, kind person and no reason for anybody to hate him not at all."

As classes resumed today under stepped-up security and a heavy police presence, students, faculty and police investigators were all asking the same question.

'Why Does This Have to Happen Again?'

"Why does this have to happen again?" asked Thomas Green, 25, a junior at the university. "Why are we going through this again?"

The brutal killing this weekend was eerily similar to that of another 19-year-old freshman, Eric Plunkett, who was beaten to death in his room on the first floor of Cogswell Hall last year.

"When Eric Plunkett was killed in September, it shocked and hurt the community very badly," university President I. King Jordan told ABCNEWS. "For it to happen again it's just outside anything I can understand."

Both slayings are unsolved and Washington, D.C. police say they have not ruled out a possible connection.

"Obviously that is one thing we are looking at," Police Chief Charles Ramsey said in a separate news briefing today. "We just don't have any evidence right now to show that they are in fact linked."

As the third day of the investigation drew to a close, police had yet to identify a suspect or a motive for the latest killing one so bloody that the FBI's blood-splatter experts were called in to examine the crime scene.

Police detectives, having scoured the campus for physical evidence and conducted more than 100 interviews since Saturday, are now trying to reconstruct Warner's whereabouts in the hours and days preceding his death.