Virginia Commonwealth University fraternity suspended following death of a 19-year-old freshman

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The Virginia Commonwealth University chapter of Delta Chi has been suspended following the death of a 19-year-old freshman.

Adam Oakes, 19, of Loudoun County, died in an incident linked to the fraternity. The Richmond Police Department said they were called to the scene on West Clay Street at 9:16 a.m. Saturday. Oakes was unresponsive when they arrived. The Medical Examiner will determine the cause and manner of death.

VCU tweeted a statement on Sunday confirming Oakes’ death.

Adam Oakes, 19, of Loudoun County, died in an incident linked to the fraternity. (Photo from Oakes’ family)

“VCU mourns the death of student Adam Oakes who was identified by authorities at an off-campus residence early Saturday,” the university said in a statement.

The college said the national office for Delta Chi issued a cease-and-desist order on Saturday, and VCU said it took “similar action” Sunday.

Oakes’ family said they found he had died through the Loudon County Police department, but they found out how he died through social media.

“He is all we had. He is everything we had in our life,” said Eric Oakes, Adam’s father. He began to tear up as he talked. “We had one child, he’s a lovely kid. He just totally enjoyed life.”

A photo of Adam Oakes as a baby with his father. (Photo from Oakes’ family)

Cousin Courtney White said he wanted to make friends so he rushed and received a bid from the fraternity Delta Chi.

“He was sweet. He was so sweet,” said White. “He had the biggest heart he would literally give you the shirt off his back.”

“And when this fraternity wanted him, he just felt so accepted that he wanted to impress them and be part of the brotherhood,” she said.

His roommate, Alec Cardullo-Munoz, said Oakes’ death has hurt him deeply.

“I just feel broken. That was one of my closest friends,” Cardullo-Munoz said. “He knew so much stuff about me.”

Cardullo-Munoz said he went to high school with Oakes in Loudoun County before they became roommates at VCU. He said he remembers when Oakes received a bid for the fraternity.

“He came into the room all giddy and said the president gave him a bid,” Cardullo-Munoz said. “He just wanted to feel accepted and be with these guys.”

The cause of death has not been released by officials but the family is adamant it was a result of incidents within the fraternity.

“What we are hearing right now is that he drank a handle of Jack Daniels — the kids told us the names of the bigs, they told us more information than the police did,” White said.

Michael Rao, president of VCU, tweeted that the college will work closely with local law enforcement on this investigation.

“We are heartbroken at the tragic loss of one of our own,” Rao said in the tweet. “I offer my heartfelt sympathies to Adam’s loved ones and closest friends.”

Delta Chia Headquarters sent the following statement to Nexstar’s WRIC:

We were devastated to learn of the passing of a student at Virginia Commonwealth University and extend our condolences to the family, friends and everyone touched by this heart-breaking news. The health and safety of our chapter communities is always a top priority for The Delta Chi Fraternity, which suspended the VCU chapter after learning of the incident late Saturday afternoon. We encourage all members to cooperate with law enforcement investigative efforts and all directives of the University Administration.

Delta Chi Headquarters

As of Sunday, the VCU chapter of the fraternity has deactivated its Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts.

A petition has been created for VCU President Michael Rao with the title, “Expel VCU Delta Chi”, and has close to 5,000 signatures as of Monday morning.

There is currently a gofundme for Oakes’ funeral costs. It exceeded the goal of $15,000 in under 24 hours.

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