Sunday, July 27, 2003

Search for missing player yields decomposed body

The Associated Press

WACO, Texas - A body found at a rock quarry near Baylor University was too decomposed to immediately determine whether it was that of missing basketball player Patrick Dennehy, authorities said Saturday.

The body was found by an investigator Friday night in an area not previously searched, but in the general vicinity of where authorities had been looking for the Baylor athlete, said McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch. The scene, five miles southeast of Baylor, was secured and guarded overnight.

"This morning, at first light, we began a thorough collection of all evidence and examination of the area where the badly decomposed body was found," Lynch said.

He said he notified Dennehy's family Saturday that an unidentified body was found, and that it was being taken to a forensic lab for an autopsy and positive identification.

Dennehy, a 6-foot-10, 230-pound center, was last seen on campus June 12. His family reported him missing June 19, and his Chevrolet Tahoe, missing its license plates, was found in a Virginia Beach, Va., parking lot June 25.

Maryland native and former teammate Carlton Dotson, 21, who had been living with Dennehy for a few months, was charged with Dennehy's murder last week. He remains jailed without bond awaiting extradition to Texas.

Waco police said Dotson told FBI agents in Maryland he shot Dennehy after the player tried to shoot him. But after his arrest, Dotson said he "didn't confess to anything."

Dotson gave police three locations in Waco where Dennehy's body might be found, Dennehy's family said. The body was found in one of those locations.

An investigator with the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office who declined to give his name said the body was "greatly decomposed" and it could take days to identify the remains.

Dennehy's stepfather and mother, Brian and Valorie Brabazon, and his girlfriend, Jessica De La Rosa, left Waco Friday after spending four days cleaning out Dennehy's apartment and meeting with police and Baylor officials. The couple spent the night at a hotel in Albuquerque, N.M., where De La Rosa lives.

Brian Brabazon and De La Rosa each confirmed they spoke Saturday with the sheriff. Brabazon said authorities did not give him a description of the body or where it was found, but De La Rosa said the sheriff told her the body was found in water.

"We still have hope that Patrick is still alive, but we want closure," Brabazon said, adding that he and his wife would delay driving home to Carson City, Nev.

Weldon Brandon, who lives in the rural area where the body was found, said Saturday his son found a "gold-colored basketball shoe like the Baylor team wears" across from the area where investigators conducted the latest search. He said the shoe, discovered last month, had blood in it and was taken to the sheriff's department.

Friends of Dennehy say he told them he and Dotson had been threatened and that the pair obtained guns. Dennehy's family also said he told coaches he feared for his life.

Head coach Dave Bliss has repeatedly said he and his staff were not aware of any threats.

"We all share the family's agony over these past several of weeks and the horror his friend has been charged with murder," Baylor athletic director Tom Stanton said.

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