Batesville Police Chief Alan Cockrill told White River Now Friday that based on his department’s knowledge, a statement made to a Little Rock television station by the parents of a 19-year-old freshman student-athlete who was found deceased in his Lyon College dorm room last week was not accurate.
The statement suggested that James Gilfedder’s Jan. 30 death could have been caused by “hazing” as part of an “initiation that went out of control.” Gilfedder, from Yucaipa, Calif., was a member of the Lyon College baseball team.
Cockrill told White River Now Friday that his department has received full cooperation from the college, from the coaches, from the players, and from the attorneys for the three persons of interest (see below) during the investigation of Gilfedders’ death. And Cockrill also said there was never a mention of an initiation for freshman players.
According to the chief, when officers and EMS arrived at the dorm room to find Gilfedders deceased, nothing at the scene suggested an out-of-control initiation. After the dorm room was processed, the body was sent to the state crime lab to determine the cause and manner of death.
According to the Thursday KATV report from reporter Mills Hayes, Nikki and James Gilfedder dropped their son off at Lyon College two weeks ago as a student-athlete. On Jan. 30, he attended a pre-season party at a house on Boles Street that was being rented by other members of the baseball team. He was later found deceased in his dorm room.
James’ mother, Nikki Gilfedder, told KATV: “Somebody did something. Somebody hurt him. Somebody killed him.”
“He only drank a fifth of vodka. That would not kill my son,” Nikki said in the report.
The father of James told KATV: “I feel like I participated in his murder because I brought him here.”
Also according to the report, the Gilfedders said that their son had signs of trauma on his body.
“He had a lot of trauma on his face and all over his body, and we knew that there was a different story,” James’ father told KATV.
KATV asked James’ father if he believed a contributor to his son’s death was “hazing.”
“Yes, I think it was an initiation that went out of control,” he told KATV. “Somebody had a lot of hate or something because from what we have seen no one should have ever went through that. No one.”
Batesville Police Chief Alan Cockrill told White River Now news last week that the department interviewed a number of people who attended the party, and the investigation has three “persons of interest” in the case. (Click here for that report from White River Now.)
He said they are now awaiting a report from the state medical examiner, and then all evidence will be turned over to the Prosecuting Attorney to consider filing charges in the case.
KATV reported the Gilfedders have the Little Rock-based legal firm, Rainwater Holt & Sexton, “set to represent them.”
Screenshots via KATV
Get up-to-date local and regional news along with the latest sports and weather every weekday morning by listening to Gary B. on Ozark Newsline, broadcast from the First Community Bank Newsroom on Arkansas 103.3. White River Now updates are also aired weekday mornings on 93 KZLE, Outlaw 106.5, and Your FM 99.5. Have a news tip or event to promote? Email White River Now at email@example.com. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Add don’t forget to download the White River Now mobile app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.
Remember: Wear a mask. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing.