Cops: Underground frats a problem in town where student died

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

ONEONTA, N.Y. (AP) — Underground fraternities like the one where a freshman was found unconscious before dying from a combination of drugs and alcohol have been a longtime problem for the upstate New York college town, police said Tuesday.

Oneonta Police Chief Douglas Brenner said Daniel William Michaels, 18, of Dix Hills in Suffolk County, died of cardiac arrest after being brought to a local hospital in a private vehicle early Saturday. Michaels was found unconscious on a couch in the off-campus home of Alpha Pi, a frat that's not recognized by the State University of New York at Oneonta, Brenner said.

Someone called 911. But while officers were responding, Michaels was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Michaels died from cardiac arrest brought on by a combination of drugs and alcohol, the police chief said.

The Daily Star of Oneonta reported that Williams was a new pledge who was studying business economics at the school, about 135 miles (217 kilometers) northwest of New York City.

"We offer the condolences of the SUNY Oneonta community to Daniel's parents and family," college President Nancy Kleniewski said in a statement emailed to students Saturday. "We are all one community, and the death of a student is painful to us all."

An autopsy revealed a small amount of alcohol was found in his system, according to the Otsego County coroner. The amount of drugs detected won't be available until a full toxicology report is completed.

No one has been charged. The investigation was continuing Tuesday, police said.

Williams was found in an apartment in a rental home where two other frat members live, Brenner said. He said underground frats not recognized by a college have been a problem in Oneonta, home to the 6,000-student state school, and Hartwick College, a private school with an enrollment of 1,400.

"They're hard to track because they don't report to anybody," Brenner told The Associated Press. "We've had a long history of unrecognized fraternities that cause problems. They tend to come and to go."

WNBC-TV in New York reported that family members said the teen's twin brother, Justin, was killed when a tree fell on him at a day camp when he was 4 years old.


Information from: The Daily Star,

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Associated Press


    Catch up on the top news and features from, sent weekly.
    By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

    KSL Weather Forecast