‘Murder’ & ‘Torture’: Family Of Penn State Fraternity Pledge Speak Out On Hazing Death

BELLEFONTE, Pa. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The family of a 19-year-old Penn State student who died after an alleged fraternity hazing ritual are speaking out.

18 Penn State Beta Theta Pi fraternity brothers and the chapter itself are charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with Timothy Piazza‘s death.

Other charges include aggravated and simple assault, evidence tampering, alcohol-related violations and hazing.

Prosecutors said Piazza, a sophomore engineering student at Penn State from Lebanon, New Jersey, was a pledge at the fraternity when he went to party at the frat house on campus in February.

The grand jury said the fraternity was heavily stocked with booze for the Feb. 2 ceremony. Prosecutors said the pledges were pressured to chug vodka, shotgun beers and drink wine.

The grand jury report says security camera footage shows fraternity members carrying Piazza’s limp body upstairs, smacking him in the face and pouring liquid on him as he went in and out of consciousness for hours, CBS News’ Jericka Duncan reported.

“This wasn’t boys being boys,” Tim’s father Jim Piazza told Duncan. “This was murder of our son. They tortured him for 12 hours. They let him suffer for 12 hours. He died a slow and painful death at the hands of these ‘men of principle,’ as they call it.”

“To hit him, and slap him, and brutalize him,” said Tim’s brother Mike Piazza. “They should not have been trying to get a response. They should have been trying to get him help.”

“How do you pour liquid on someone, slap them in the face and hit them after you just watched them fall and they were unconscious?” asked Tim’s girlfriend Kaitlyn Tempalsky.

Tim Piazza fell down the steps after allegedly going through a hazing ritual called a “gauntlet,” in which fraternity pledges run from station to station drinking large amounts of alcohol in a short amount of time, according to prosecutors.

Piazza tumbled down a flight of stairs that night and fell several other times, injuring his head, according to District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller said. The next morning, he fell down the stairs again and was unconscious when help was finally summoned.

“To know that he was laying at the bottom of the basement steps for any length of time all by himself,” said Tim’s mother Evelyn Piazza. “It all is terrible.”

“These brothers gathered around Timothy where some of them described that he looked dead and they waited over 40 minutes before they called for help while some of them Googled things like, ‘What to do with a head injury?'” Miller said.

He died Feb. 4 as a result of a traumatic brain injury.

Miller said doctors estimate Piazza had a blood-alcohol content of nearly 0.40 percent; the legal limit for drivers, for comparison, is 0.08 percent.

The investigation found some frat members tried to conceal what happened, prosecutors said. It found that a text message recovered by police urged pledges to get rid of evidence of alcohol and that conversations discussing deleting conversations from a messaging app were discovered.

Penn State permanently banned Beta Theta Pi on March 30, accusing it of a “persistent pattern” of excessive drinking, drug use and hazing.

Jim Piazza said that move offers him no solace.

“First of all, we told them that had to happen. That’s not enough,” he said. “They need to eliminate alcohol provided to minors. They need to come down very hard on any situation where there’s hazing.”

“And I think maybe fraternities and sororities need an adult chaperone all the time,” Evelyn Piazza said.

Eight of the fraternity members face felony charges that could land them 20 years in prison.

“I have a lifetime of absence from my son,” Jim said. “I would be good with 20 years.”

He also offered guidance for any student considering joining a fraternity or sorority.

“If anybody tries to make you do something that’s illegal, don’t do it. Walk away. You don’t want to be brothers with those guys,” he said.

For more of the interview, head over to our colleagues at CBS News.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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