Police have said that no criminal charges will be brought in the death of a Cornell University freshman whose body was found in a gorge after he attended a fraternity rush party.
The body of Antonio Tsialas, 18, was discovered on the evening of October 26 inside the Fall Creek George, in a nature preserve in Ithaca, New York near the Cornell campus.
In a statement on Monday, the Cornell University Police department said that its investigation involving 150 interviews had been unable to determine how Tsialas got to the gorge after a night of heavy drinking at a Phi Kappa Psi rush party, or why he was at the steep overlook.
Investigators said that they did not identify any evidence of foul play at the overlook, and the death remains accidental due to a fall from a height as classified by the medical examiner.
Cornell freshman Antonio Tsialas, 18, was found dead in October after attending a Phi Kappa Psi rush party that involved heavy binge drinking games
His body was found in the Fall Creek George (above), in a nature preserve in Ithaca, New York near the Cornell campus
The Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office determined that no criminal charges would be filed in connection with the case, CUPD said.
On October 24 Tsialas got dinner with his parents who were visiting campus for First-Year Family Weekend then attended a ‘dirty rush’ party hosted by the fraternity Phi Kappa Psi. Such parties are a way for fraternities to recruit first year students outside of official fraternity rules.
After the party, the 18-year-old club soccer player failed to return to his dorm. Tsialas’ parents reported him missing the next day.
His body was found two days after the frat party at Fall Creek Gorge, which is located about a mile from the fraternity house at 129 Mary Ann Wood Drive, about a 20 minute walk.
In a lawsuit filed in January, Tsialas’ parents accuse the university of turning a blind eye to the school’s hazing culture and they name many of the fraternity’s members, claiming they did nothing to save their son’s life.
In their lawsuit, his family says that on the night of his death, Antonio and the other boys had gone through various rounds of drinking in the fraternity house.
In a lawsuit filed in January, Tsialas’ parents accuse the university of turning a blind eye to the school’s hazing culture and they name many of the fraternity’s members
This map shows where Antonio was last known to be in the evening of October 24, at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house. His body was found on October 26 at the Fall Creek gorge at a nearby nature preserve
He had been at dinner with his mom then was picked up for a ‘Christmas in October’ rush party at the frat house, where new pledges were forced to complete seven drinking games in seven different rooms.
There was a tropical room – where they had alcohol poured in their mouths while going under a limbo – a beer room, a wine room, and the ‘Jewish room’ – which ‘was set up to look like a bar mitzvah’ with a pyramid of glasses of vodka and beer.
There was also a ‘milk and rum room’ – where milk and rum were mixed together and they had to race to finish cups of the concoction – and the Santa Claus room.
Someone in the fraternity had dressed up as Santa and the freshman would ‘have to sit on his lap to be told whether he had been naughty or nice.
‘Santa’s proclamation determined what type of alcohol the freshmen then had to drink.
There was also the ‘lounge’ where they finished the rounds of drinking games with a shot of whipped cream to the mouth and more alcohol.
By the end of the seven rounds, the lawsuit says, many of the boys were ‘black out drunk’ and ‘vomiting’, the lawsuit says.
Antonio partied at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house located at 120 Mary Ann Wood Drive
Antonio Tsialas was a rising star at Cornell University and was chosen to play goalie on a competitive club soccer team
At some stage, Tsialas was able to wander out of the house. No one knows how he got to the gorge. An autopsy confirmed that he was drunk when he died.
The next day, when his mother reported him missing, the lawsuit claims the fraternity president Andrew Scherr was ‘panicking’ and telling people: ‘If anyone asks you, don’t tell them he came to our house.’
The parents alleged that the college has a long history of allowing hazing and that the fraternity and its members tried to cover up what happened to their son.
In the course of their investigation, campus police referred Phi Kappa Psi for ‘serious violations’ of university policy in holding the booze-fueled rush party.
After a hearing, Cornell permanently revoked recognition of the fraternity, meaning it will no longer be allowed to operate at the school.
Additionally, 31 students were referred to the Cornell University Judicial Administrator’s Office for violations of the Campus Code of Conduct. The school says the outcomes of those referrals cannot be revealed due to privacy rules.
Tsialas’ parents were informed last week that no criminal charges would be filed in his death.
‘What started as a beautiful weekend with our son Antonio Tsialas turned into our worst nightmare,’ his mother Flavia shared in a Facebook post. ‘The evening Antonio went missing I met him for dinner and he was so cheerful. We spoke of how happy he was at Cornell and all of his exciting future plans.’