Wednesday, December 11, 2002

Hanover College shuts early

Student feared target after brother is suspected of shooting their parents

By Jim Hannah, The Cincinnati Enquirer
and Stephenie Steitzer, Enquirer contributor

HANOVER, Ind. - College students hastily packed up three days early for Christmas break Tuesday as police searched for a Kentucky teen thought to have killed his parents and whose next target might be his brother - a Hanover College sophomore.

[photo] Hanover College students Amy Arnold and Megan Johnson leave their dorms Tuesday for an early holiday break.
(Patrick Reddy photo)
| ZOOM |
Hanover College, 70 miles southwest of Cincinnati, began sending students home at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The concern was that Blake P. Walker, 16, of Knifley, Ky., who police believe shot his parents to death Sunday night, would come to the idyllic riverside campus in search of his brother, Manning Walker, a Hanover philosophy and anthropology major.

"The rumors of a gunman started yesterday," said Grant Saunders, of Symmes Township, a senior double majoring in business and economics at Hanover. "By last night, the doors to the library were locked. By this morning, exams were canceled."

The parents, Brian Walker and Barbara Peterson, were found Monday after two of Blake Walker's Adair County High School classmates contacted police in the Kentucky town about 100 miles from the Hanover campus.

Investigators believe Blake Walker acted alone in the shooting, but have no idea why.

"Right now we don't have any reason why," Kentucky State Police spokesman Dwaine Barnett said. "Everybody we talked to in the family seemed to think everything was fine."

Manning Walker was informed of his parents' death by college staff and rushed from campus housing, as officials feared that his life, too, was in danger. He stayed with a faculty member Monday night, officials said, and is now in hiding under police guard.

By noon Tuesday, the campus began to resemble a ghost town, said Alan Clark, spokesman for the school. State and local police stood guard at the school's entrances as a few remaining stragglers stayed behind.

"There is no word to describe what has happened," said Sean Smith, 21, of Springboro, who stayed late to write a term paper. "You feel for the guy. Trying to imagine what he is going through is hard to do. We are all getting ready to go home early, but he doesn't have anyone to go home to."

"Since this is still an evolving incident with lots of unanswered questions, we decided to err on the side of caution," Mr. Clark said. "Better be safe than sorry. I think the parents would agree with that, too."

Amy Arnold, 21, of Laramie, Wyo., is an acquaintance of Manning Walker.

"We are getting to go home early, but the atmosphere hasn't been jovial," said Miss Arnold, a senior. "A classmate's parents died. What a horrible thought. My housemates prayed for the family this morning."

Residents of Knifley, population 150-200, also tried to deal with the initial shock of the killings.

Community leaders said the loss is especially difficult because the entire family was active in the community.

The father, Brian Walker, 54, originally from Iowa, started a volunteer fire department in the town 16 years ago, just two years after he moved the family to Kentucky. He settled on a 218-acre farm in a house that he built himself after returning from a Peace Corps tour in Papua, New Guinea.

Mrs. Peterson, 55, who was originally from New Jersey, was a psychology instructor at Lindsey Wilson College in Columbia, about 15 miles north of Knifley.

School officials, who have had the high school on lockdown since Monday morning, said Blake Walker was a good student and involved in social activities.

Blake Walker was last seen driving a maroon, four-door 2000 Saturn with Kentucky license plate 180 FVL. He was described as white, 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighing 140 pounds. He has brown hair and brown eyes.

Anyone who knows Blake Walker's whereabouts is asked to call Kentucky State Police at (800) 222-5555 or the nearest law-enforcement agency.

No funeral arrangements have been made for the couple.


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