Every time I think about publishing this post, the tears fill my eyes, yet again, and I find myself looking for a distraction. But today Chadron desperately needs your support and prayers. Our tiny community faced two terrifying events this week. These tragedies included students of Lee's (and mine) who are loved by many in the community and beyond (I'll include links to several news articles throughout this post):
The first event happened Wednesday, December 3rd, when a group of four Chadron State College wrestlers and one assistant coach were injured in a car wreck. They were on the way to the airport to catch a plane to the Las Vegas Invite meet.
The four were taken to the Medical Center of the Rockies in Loveland, the school said. Other members of the team were traveling in another vehicle, the school stated.
As of today, at least two of the wrestlers are still listed in serious condition. I know that at least one of these young men was a student of Lee's.
The second event was far more devastating. Twenty-two year old Chadron State College student Kenneth (Kenny) Pfeiffer was stabbed to death on Friday, December 5th. According to the autopsy report, he was stabbed more than 50 times! The only suspect at present is 25 year old Joseph (Joey) Hotz, who was Kenny's roommate and another student at Chadron State College.
At 6 p.m. Friday evening officers from the Chadron Police Department responded to reports of a disturbance on the 800 block of King Street. Residents from that area reported that a man armed with a knife attempted to break into one home, then successfully broke into another, where he made contact with the occupants and eventually fled.
Chadron Police officers made visual contact with a suspect matching the reported description, than gave chase on foot. The suspect was apprehended at gun-point by Officer Mike Loutzenhiser, Lt. Rick Hickstein and Sgt. Shawn Banzhaf (bon-zoff).
Dawes County Attorney Vance Haug said that investigation led officers to a home on the 900 block of Shelton Street, which is located off campus. The body of the suspect’s roommate was found at that location.
There are really no other details at this time, but there are other news articles I haven't quoted from yet HERE, HERE and HERE.
Many of you know we live on King Street (just two blocks from where all this took place) and yet we had no idea it was happening. We never saw flashing lights or the police tape--we didn't know anything about the event until the following morning while standing in the checkout line at Walmart. However, Kenny was Lee's student last spring and mine for just one month of information literacy. He's not just some faceless victim to many here in Chadron. And neither is Joey Hotz. From a CSC news article we also know that "Pfeiffer, 22, was a CSC sophomore studying to be a physical education teacher and Hotz a senior studying natural sciences with an option in biology." Both boys appear to have had bright futures ahead.
I don't even want to think about how the parents of all these boys are coping with their losses--one child was lost horrifically, one may spend the rest of his life behind bars, and others are severely injured with unknown outcomes at present. It's a lot to digest in such a short time.
President of Chadron State College, Janie Park, says in a recent statement, "We will have counselors available for students and employees who are distressed and trying to cope with these two events." I hope everyone who is deeply affected will take advantage of these services immediately.
Please pray for everyone involved and for the healing of our community as we mourn.