- The Washington Times - Friday, September 7, 2001

A preliminary autopsy of a University of Maryland student found unconscious early Wednesday at a fraternity house has revealed no evidence of foul play, Prince George's County police said yesterday.
Campus and county police had been unable to determine what caused the death of Sigma Alpha Epsilon member Alexander Eugene Klochkoff, who was pronounced dead later Wednesday at Washington Adventist Hospital.
Police investigators said it is unlikely that alcohol led to Mr. Klochkoff's death; preliminary results by the state's medical examiner also suggest that the 20-year-old junior was not slain.
Police are awaiting toxicology results, which are expected to take two to eight weeks.
"Without the toxicology report, we cannot say if it was alcohol- or drug-related, and we may not know those answers for another two weeks," said county police Capt. Mark Summers.
One of Mr. Klochkoff's fraternity brothers found the North Bellmore, N.Y., native lying face down on a beanbag chair on the front porch of the "4 Fraternity Row" Sigma Alpha Epsilon House around 8 a.m. Wednesday, police said.
"It wasn't anything caused by physical harm," campus police Chief Kenneth Krouse said of the student's death. "We have an officer working with the Prince George's police, who are leading the investigation, and we're trying to find a cause of death."
Investigators have been interviewing students and staff, but none of them has revealed anything that could help to classify the young man's death — whether it was a homicide or an accident.
Mr. Klochkoff was a transfer student from a school in New York and had only been at the University of Maryland for a year, said officials.
Thomas Goodale, executive director for the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity, commended the 58-member University of Maryland chapter for its handling of the situation, saying the fraternity does not believe hazing was involved in Mr. Klochkoff's death.
"There is generally no intake this time of year, and Alex has been a member since March 2000," said Sigma Epsilon spokesman Christopher Mundy.
County police said the young man was seen drinking Tuesday night at an open rush event, where fraternities evaluate potential inductees. According to a handbill distributed on campus, rush events were scheduled from Sept. 4 to Sept. 12.
Officers of the Interfraternity Council, which deals with fraternity issues on campus, have said they have tried to force fraternities and sororities to eliminate alcohol from their events.
Mr. Mundy stressed that hazing is illegal and would not be practiced during the rush or initiation process.
"This is very tragic and a difficult way to start off the school year. We will continue to support the chapter in their grieving period," said Mr. Goodale.
Meanwhile, the impact of the death reverberated through the Greek community. The front of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house remained cordoned off by police crime-scene tape yesterday, and about 20 members of the university's fraternities donned black armbands.
More than a half-dozen members of various fraternities said they had been instructed not to discuss the case.
Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity member Jonathan Reichel, 18, said rumors were rampant in the wake of the death. "It's sad. A guy died. What can you say?" he said.
Sophomore Candice Burke said the uncertainty over the cause of death concerned her.
"We don't know what happened. I don't know if I should be worried about safety or what," said Miss Burke, who lives in an apartment complex behind several of the fraternity houses.
This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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