On the evening of March 4 at an off-campus house, members of a Bowling Green State University fraternity handed Stone Foltz and his fellow pledges 750-milliliter bottles of liquor and ordered them to finish it all by the end of the night, prosecutors said.
On Thursday, eight men who were allegedly involved in Foltz’s death were charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide and evidence tampering.
“The result of this event was catastrophic,” said Paul A. Dobson, the prosecutor in Wood County, Ohio, at a news conference on Thursday. “… This is the beginning of the criminal process for these men.”
Cory and Shari Foltz, Stone Foltz’s parents, said they were thankful for the charges but added they will continue to push universities to abolish hazing.
“We are living every parent’s worst nightmare and will not be at peace until fraternity hazing is seen for what it truly is — abuse,” they said in a statement to The Washington Post. “It’s unacceptable, and in Stone’s case, it was fatal. How many injuries and deaths will it take for people in positions of power to do the right thing?”
The news of Foltz’s death comes amid an ongoing national reckoning with fatal hazing rituals; less than two weeks earlier, Adam Oakes, a 19-year-old freshman at Virginia Commonwealth University, also died in a hazing incident following a Delta Chi fraternity party.
Foltz, a freshman business major from Columbus, didn’t want to go to the party at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity chapter on March 4. In text messages with his mother, Shari Foltz, he said the event revolved around a “drinking ritual,” she told the Columbus Dispatch last month. His mother told him not to go, but Foltz said that if he didn’t participate, then he wouldn’t be allowed in the fraternity.
The event, which began around 9 p.m., was meant to be an “initiation process,” Dobson said. The pledges — nearly all underage — were matched with their “big brothers,” who then gave them the 750-mL bottles of liquor with a high alcohol content and instructions to drink it all. Dobson added that the event revolved around watching the pledges attempt to do so.
“From what we have learned, we believe and allege that hazing was an integral part of this event,” Dobson said.
After Foltz allegedly finished the bottle, he was taken home by “several other members” of the fraternity, Dobson said. Among the group was Foltz’s assigned big brother, Jacob Krinn.
Krinn, a 20-year-old student from Delaware, Ohio, allegedly left Foltz in his apartment. Shortly before 11 p.m., Foltz’s roommate came home to find him unconscious on the couch. The roommate called friends for help and eventually 911. He then administered CPR until the ambulance arrived, Dobson said.
Foltz was taken off life support on March 7.
“The autopsy indicated that Stone died from fatal alcohol intoxication during the hazing event, with a blood alcohol content of 0.35 — over four times the legal limit,” Dobson said.
The fallout from the incident was swift. The university immediately opened an investigation and then suspended the Pi Kappa Alpha chapter, which was also suspended by the national organization. Earlier this month, BGSU expelled the fraternity.
In a statement shared with The Post, the Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity condemned the actions of its members and said the organization “supports a full investigation and holding those accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”
Throughout the investigation, Dobson said, some fraternity members allegedly “engaged in providing misinformation to the police and disposing of evidence in an attempt to protect themselves and other members.”
Out of the eight men indicted Thursday on hazing charges, Krinn faces the most severe. Dobson noted that Krinn was “directly involved in the incident relative to Stone Foltz” because he was with him from the beginning of the night up until taking him back to his apartment.
“For that reason, we felt that culpability was different,” the prosecutor said.
Krinn’s charges include first-degree felony and third-degree misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter, reckless homicide, assault, obstruction, and providing alcohol to underage people.
All but one of the defendants were enrolled at BGSU when the incident occurred, Dobson said.
Court documents did not note attorneys for the defendants, who are expected to appear in court May 19.
Dobson said the investigation is ongoing and that the defendants could face more charges. More attendees at the party will probably be charged as well.
“I want to say this to the people who were at the event: If you do not even attempt to be part of the solution, you may well be identified as part of the problem and we will respond to that,” the prosecutor said.
Dobson stressed Thursday that he had hoped to never handle another hazing case.
“I want this to be the only and last time that this type of case is prosecuted in Wood County,” Dobson said. “Please, God, let it be the last time that it’s prosecuted in the United States.”