Suspicious Death At Le Moyne During Family Weekend Ruled Suicide


The person that was found in the woods on the northeast corner of  Le Moyne College’s campus Sunday morning has been ruled a victim of suicide.

Originally investigators were unable to identify the gender, age or race of the victim; but after the medical examiner inspected the scene the DeWitt Police Department stated the body belonged to a woman in her late 50s.

A review of surveillance footage done by police at a local gas station confirmed that the victim purchased a gas can, lighter and gallon of fuel, all of which were recovered at the scene. The victim had a history of depression and mental illness, according to DeWitt Police.

The police stated the victim had no connection to Le Moyne College, but did live close to the campus. Due to the circumstances, the name of the victim will not be released.

Faculty and staff were notified first of the incident on campus at 3:07 p.m. on Sunday afternoon via the college’s email service. Students were then notified at 4:49 p.m. Two Follow-up emails with more details were later sent to everyone on campus around 6 p.m. on Sunday night and 3 p.m. on Monday afternoon.

A group of joggers discovered the body Sunday around 11:30 a.m. while running on the trails near Thompson Road and Alden Avenue, said Capt. John Anton of the DeWitt Police Department according to an article on

Investigators arrived at the area around 12:13 p.m., where they discovered the body. The “suspicious” death is believed to have occurred between Saturday night and Sunday morning. Anton told the person may have been set on fire.

In response to the incident on Sunday, campus security brought additional staff to campus to assist DeWitt Police. Resident Advisors and members of Campus Life and Leadership also began immediately conducted roster checks in on-campus residence halls.

President Linda LeMura released a statement to The Dolphin saying she was terribly saddened by the news campus received today.  

“Campus Security worked closely with the investigation by the DeWitt Police Department and will continue to do so,” said LeMura. “While we believe there is no threat to campus based upon the current information, students should still use best judgment and contact Campus Security at (315)445-4444 should they have any concerns. I join with all members of our campus community in praying for the person who lost their life in this tragic incident.”

Junior Steve Ferguson said he was on his way to lunch on Sunday with his parents around 1 p.m. when he saw a group of police cars near the woods.

“As we drove down Thompson Road, we saw 10-12 Dewitt and NYS police cars on the corner of Alden and Thompson, a fire truck, and a Le Moyne Campus Security officer parked next to the National Grid transformer. The edge of the woods was taped off,” said Ferguson. “At around 2:45, on my way back to campus, I drove by again. When I asked, none of the officers, nor campus security would tell me what was going on.”

Senior and Student Government President Morgan Baker said she was first notified of the incident by an article released on

The article on was already all over social media. I would have liked a quicker email, even if it was broad, but I do think the school did a good job with communication and I’m glad they sent what they did,” said Baker. “I think this is a very unfortunate situation to happen so close to our home and it reminds all of us to always be aware of our surroundings.”

According to the associate director of Campus Life and Leadership Ann Bersani all students and faculty were meant to be notified at the same time, but were not due to a technical issue.

“The College’s intent was to inform all members of the campus community at the same time,” said Bersani. “Due to a technical glitch, that did not occur. As soon as it was brought to our attention, it was corrected and a new notification was sent out.”

Along with students on campus, local residents of the area were shocked to hear a body had been found in the woods right near their homes.

Paul Williams, who lives three streets down from the incident, was in shock upon hearing the news. “It’s very surprising because we have a very good, stable neighborhood over here. It’s kind of upsetting to see — to find a body on this side. This neighborhood, we’re a pretty safe neighborhood,” he said.

Resident of 18 years Don Santangelo said he never expected to come home from apple picking to such a sight.

“It’s usually pretty quiet around here. I know we have some riff raff in the area, but you never hear anything like this. This is just nuts,” said Santangelo. “College kids just came back, and hopefully none of them are missing. Parents must be worried. It’s kind of a freaky thing, it’s like a movie.”


According to a Press Release from Dewitt Police, the autopsy has been completed by the medical examiner, but the cause and manner of death are still “pending toxicology testing and police and fire investigation.”