Sunday, June 29, 2003

Missing Baylor player feared dead

Teammates of Baylor center questioned in investigation

The Associated Press

WACO, Texas - Police have been questioning Baylor University basketball players in the disappearance of a teammate, who authorities fear may be a victim of homicide.

No body has been found, but authorities say Patrick James Dennehy, 21, hasn't been heard from in more than two weeks, and his sport utility vehicle turned up abandoned in a Virginia parking lot last week with its license plates missing.

Coach Dave Bliss read a brief statement Saturday afternoon.

"Right now, the team, the university and all the members of the Baylor family and myself are in tremendous disbelief about the recent events," Bliss said.

Investigators believe the 6-foot-10 inch, 230-pound center may have been killed in the Waco area, though authorities wouldn't say what led them to that conclusion. Waco police spokesman Steven Anderson said police have interviewed Baylor players, as well as other people, in the case.

"Several sources have mentioned names of players," Anderson said. Waco police spokeswoman Joy Mauer said Saturday that authorities had no additional information to release.

In a statement late Friday, Baylor athletic director Tom Stanton called the developments in the investigation "certainly disturbing."

"Our thoughts and prayers right now remain with Patrick's family and everyone in the Baylor University family," Stanton said. "All we know now is there are more questions than answers. It's important at this moment that we not speculate."

Several team members did not immediately return messages left Saturday afternoon.

Baylor player Ellis Kidd Jr. was quoted as saying in Saturday's edition of The Dallas Morning News that police talked to a group of team members who hadn't already left for summer vacation.

"They just wanted our help," he said. "We just started having meetings with them. We don't know nothing. Everybody's shook up."

Carlton Dotson, who was on the team last season and lives in Hurlock, Md., told the newspaper he was told not to talk about the case.

"I had to talk to police today, and I told them everything I can tell them and everything I knew," Dotson said.

Investigators have searched Dennehy's apartment at least twice in recent days, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported Saturday. They also sent at least one detective to Virginia Beach, Va., to examine Dennehy's vehicle, Virginia Beach police spokesman Jimmy Barnes said.

The vehicle had been towed from a strip mall at the request of the mall's owner. When the towing company reported the vehicle's identification number to Virginia Beach police, it matched the Waco missing person's case listed in national law enforcement database.

Dennehy grew up in the San Francisco Bay area and played for Wilcox High School in Santa Clara and St. Francis High School in Mountain View.

Dennehy played two years at the University of New Mexico under coach Fran Fraschilla before transferring to Baylor. His sophomore season there was clouded by problems, including an argument during a game in 2002 when Dennehy shoved a teammate, kicked over a chair and stalked off to the locker room. He didn't return to the game.

Fraschilla declined to discipline Dennehy, and the team doctor said Dennehy was being treated for "a confidential medical condition."

Dennehy sat out last season after transferring to Baylor and was expected to compete for playing time this fall.

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