January 13, 2007

01/13/07: Wade Steffey, 19, West Lafayette, IN

Wade Steffey, a freshman on a full-ride academic scholarship at Purdue University majoring in Aviation technology, was last seen on Saturday, January 13, 2007 at a party at the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity house at 900 David Ross Road on the north side of campus. He left the party around midnight and was on his way to pick up his coat, which he had left in a friend's room at Owen Hall. Police are confident that Steffey was not intoxicated when he left the party. A witness believed to have seen Steffey around 12:30 a.m. outside Owen Hall (1160 West Stadium Avenue) a short walk from his room in Cary Quad (1016 West Stadium Avenue). At about the same time, he placed two cell phone calls to friends who lived in Owen. That was the last time anyone had seen or heard from him. Wade Steffey's body was found Monday, March 19, 2007 in a utility room in Owen Hall. He had been electrocuted.

Initial Investigation
After Steffey went missing, police determined that his bank account had last been accessed on Friday, January 12 at 8:30 p.m. (the day before he disappeared) when he withdrew $50 from the walk-up ATM in the Ford Dining Hall at 122 W. Stadium Avenue. However, police were unable to positively confirm it was Steffey who withdrew the money because the machine's camera was broken. Steffey's identification card, which he would swipe to gain access to his residence hall, had not been used.

The Search
A massive search effort was launched for Steffey or any evidence linked to his disappearance, including his silver Verizon flip phone, clothing, wallet, or any other personal effects. The searches included multi-agency cooperation of the FBI, Lafayette Police Department , West Lafayette Police Department, Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Department, Indiana State Police, Purdue Fire Department, Purdue Police Department and the Indiana Deparment of Natural Resources. The search effort also received help from National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, IN Hope, Team Adam, K-9 teams and ultimately, more than 700 volunteers.

Two major ground searches took place on January 23rd and February 3rd, concentrating on the area where Steffey's cell phone signal was last picked up. Five K-9 searches also investigated a list of areas that police have received tips or suggestions to check, including the Neil Armstrong Hall of Engineering construction site and cars in several parking lots between the Phi Kappa Theta fraternity house and Cary Quad, including Owen Hall. Boats were brought in to search along the Wabash River, helicopters searched by air and sonar was also used to check a retention pond.

Wade Steffey found
Steffey's body was found by a maintenence worker who had been called to a utility room in Owen Hall. The room, which was roughly the size of a one-car garage, housed three electrical transformers connected by high-voltage wires. The body was found near one of the transformers. According to Purdue spokesperson Jeanne Norberg, "It seems likely that Wade somehow entered the room sometime shortly after he was last seen thinking that it was a way to gain entrance to the residence hall. The utility room would have been dark, and he apparently tripped over high-voltage lines that connect the three transformers as he was trying to find his way out." The utility room has both an interior and exterior door. When the utility worker was first called to check the room, she entered using the interior door, which was locked. Police found that the outside door was unlocked.

The building had been searched thoroughly after Wade's disappearance, but campus officials could not say with any certainty that the utility room had been checked and they were uncertain of the last time a school employee had accessed the room. "The location of Wade's body inside the room would have made it difficult for anyone to see him from any of the doorways," Norberg said. Steffey was last seen talking on his cell phone around 12:30 a.m. on January 13 in front of Owen Hall, about 50 yards away from the outside entrance to the utility room. He was reported missing two days later.

Unanswered questions
Purdue University police are investigating how Steffey was able to enter the utility room when it should have been locked. Police are examining the lock to determine if it had been tampered with or whether it was faulty. If you have any information about this case, call the Purdue University Police Department at (765) 494-8221 or the anonymous tip line at (765) 496-3784.

An Academic All-Star
Personal accomplishments: Steffey graduated from Bloomington High School South. When he graduated, he received a number of awards, including Principal’s Scholar Award, Academic Honors Diploma, National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar Award,Presidential Scholar, Conference Indiana Academic Award, National Honor Society, Varsity JETS Team Memberand Purdue Academic Success Award. He was accepted to Purdue University with a full scholarship.

Facts of Interest
Name/age: Wade Steffey, 19 (from Bloomington, IN)
College: Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN
Major: Aviation Technology
Physical Description: 5'10", 150#, brown hair, blue eyes
Last seen: 1/13/07, 12:00 am, Phi Kappa Theta fraternity house (900 David Ross Road), believed to have been seen again at 12:30 outside Owen Hall (1160 West Stadium Avenue).
Recovered: 4/19/07, Owen Hall utility room
Cause of death: accidental electrocution



Anonymous said...

Why is this case important? Two reasons. One, Smiley Face didn't enter Owen Hall to kill Wade Steffey; some residents of Owen Hall committed the crime. Two, whether this case is related to the I-94 killings or not it illustrates the cold, calculating potential for murder found among some students in our institutions of higher learning.

For whatever reason, these selfsame students are often given a pass when their predilection for murder and mayhem actually shows itself.

I remember a case where I live involving a Vietnamese boy who pledged one of the local fraternities. In what appeared to me to be a hazing incident gone horribly wrong, the young man was found hanging on a lat machine, with the cord attached to his neck pulled taut by a 200 pound weight, a weight much to heavy for him to handle alone. The official police ruling? Suicide. Needless to say the parents of the boy were all in a dither, and the current mayor of our fair city eventually relented to public pressure and had the case reopened. Unfortunately, the evidence had already been destroyed. The killers had not simply gotten away with murder; their crimes were shielded from prosecution by the most influential members of the community.

When is murder not murder? When the right people are doing it. But when does it become a crime to challenge the murderers? Whenever the Realm of the Scepter is directly involved. Just ask Larry Silverstein about the benediction of the Scepter. He'll laugh and tell you anything, because he knows it doesn't matter.

Correction said...

The above poster should have noted from this site's info page that the outside door to the utility room where Wade was found was unlocked. This suggests that, when all efforts to enter Owen Hall to retrieve his jacket failed, Steffey entered the room, which was dark at the time, from the outside, then tripped somehow, falling against a transformer with live wires and electrocuting himself. No murder here.

Anonymous said...



"The slipper was not considered material to the case at that time," Evans wrote. Officials learned it was Steffey's shoe when the matching shoe was found with his body.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Investigation into Wade's death

Key questions, partial answers in Wade Steffey's death


Four weeks after the body of missing Purdue University freshman Wade Steffey was found in Owen Hall, questions remain. Here's a summary of what officials say they know about the case, and what remains to be found out:

Question: Is there any new information to explain why Steffey went into a high-voltage utility room at Owen Hall, and how he got in?

Answer:Officials believe Steffey tried several doors to get inside Owen Hall, the dorm where he had left his coat prior to attending a fraternity party.

At the time of Steffey's disappearance, the outside door to the high-voltage utility room or vault was not marked with a high-voltage warning sign. The door, which is supposed to automatically lock when closed, was found unlocked when Steffey's body was discovered March 19. The locks were sent to get tested.

Q: Why wasn't the utility room thoroughly searched before the day Steffey's body was found?

A: University spokeswoman Jeanne Norberg has said that someone did check the room from the interior door but did not go further into the room because doing so would have meant that power would have to be shut off at Owen.

Officials at that time had no reason to think that Steffey might have gained access to the room. His body apparently was not visible from either entrance, and the room was dark.

This past week, lawyers for Steffey's parents said they walked into the utility room without the power being turned off.

Q: What tests were done on the door lock?

A: As part of the death investigation, Purdue sent the door lock to an outside agency to see whether it had been tampered with or was faulty.

Purdue is not commenting on whether the tests results have been returned. The Journal & Courier on April 4 asked for copies of the test results when available. As of Friday, the university had not produced them.

Q: What are the results of the toxicology report?

A: The Tippecanoe County coroner's office asked for a toxicology report when Steffey's autopsy was done.

Coroner Donna Avolt said Thursday that results can take several weeks and that she does not yet have those results.

Scott Montross, an attorney representing Steffey's parents, Dale Steffey and Dawn Adams, said his clients are not expecting to receive any information from the toxicology report "that would be negative with regard to Wade."

Q: Why do authorities believe there was no foul play involved?

A: The coroner's office ruled that Steffey stumbled on some cables in the electrical vault and was accidentally electrocuted.

Avolt said there's nothing to indicate otherwise, explaining that the autopsy and pattern marks on the body can help indicate how someone died.

Q: When was the last time the utility room door lock was checked?

A: On March 28, the Journal & Courier submitted a request under Indiana's Access to Public Records Act for the vault's maintenance logs. Purdue's public records officer, Lucia Anderson, this past week said the information was still being compiled. As of Friday, no records had been produced.

Q: What's the latest on Purdue's internal investigation?

A: Purdue officials are not commenting on the investigation, which is being overseen by Morgan Olsen, Purdue's executive vice president and treasurer. Olsen did not return a telephone message left at his office seeking comment.

Norberg said a full report will be made available once the inquiry is done. Rimkus Consulting Group Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in accident reconstruction, recently was hired to assist Purdue in its probe.

Q: What about the shoe found outside the utility room door? Why wasn't it reported by police until after the body was found?

A: Steffey's shoe, described as a plaid-lined brown moccasin, was found Jan. 23 by a maintenance employee after he drained the door well outside the utility room.

In an e-mail to Norberg from Purdue Police Chief Gary Evans, Evans said several clothing items, including shoes, were collected during the search -- but no one had said that Steffey wore slippers the night he disappeared.

"The slipper was not considered material to the case at that time," Evans wrote. Officials learned it was Steffey's shoe when the matching shoe was found with his body.

Q: Will a lawsuit be filed, and if so, when?

A: Montross said the family is considering filing a claim against Purdue. He is hoping the parties can reach some type of agreement before a suit is filed.

Montross did not have a timeline because any legal action will depend in part on results of the university's investigation.

1:54 PM - 0 Comments - 0 Kudos - Add Comment -

Anonymous said...

Ofcourse, seeing as the door was found unlocked and then Waynes' body was found in the elecrtic room, it is quite possible that he was taken there after the fact, months after infact.
And the door purposely left open for someone to discover his body there and so presume he was electrocuted.

If not we have to presume the open door to the elctric room was unoticed all that time, since the night he aledgedly entired the room.

Also it seems very odd he would have entered a room for generators when trying to access the college dorms.

Anonymous said...

Very sorry, Wade not Wayne.

Anonymous said...

electric generator rooms are not usually a through route students dorms.
Students are usually quite clever and Wade seems to be exceptional to say that he took a dead end electric generator room, to get to his dorms seems a rather incredible supposition.

High voltage Generator rooms dont usually connect to dorms do they?
I dont think any student would think they were either.

You dont fall into rooms, especially through open doors.

this story stinks to high heaven.

Anonymous said...


In an e-mail to Norberg from Purdue Police Chief Gary Evans, Evans said several clothing items, including shoes, were collected during the search -- but no one had said that Steffey wore slippers the night he disappeared.





Anonymous said...

They were aware of the slipper

"The slipper was not considered material to the case at that time," Evans wrote. Officials learned it was Steffey's shoe when the matching shoe was found with his body.

we didnt know he wore slippers you see.

well ofcourse you are not phsycicafter all, how are you expected to know such a thing!

why not ask or show the slipper to freinds? ,parents??

but no, "The slipper was not considered material to the case at that time,"

not considered, hmmm, i see, yeh tha'ts right it was not considered at all.

Why was everydoor locked is this usual?
Every door except the one that is meant to be automatically locked at all times.

Anonymous said...

maybve he was taken there later and electrocuted before some where else.

After all it seems access to that generator room was very easy and nobody noticed anything about it until months later.

the culprit could have been in and out of that room on numerous occasions, no one evidently would have so much as noticed , going off the evidence of this case.

Anonymous said...

seeing the recent case of the deranged Edward Lanphear , who chained up a naked young man in his garage in Saratoga.

Maybe others like him like electric. It is a horrible but very possible scenario, seeing as three months went by before the discovery.

Anonymous said...

From Saratoga to Indiana is 4 hours 37 mins

Anonymous said...

A witness believed to have seen Steffey around 12:30 a.m. outside Owen Hall (1160 West Stadium Avenue) a short walk from his room in Cary Quad (1016 West Stadium Avenue). At about the same time, he placed two cell phone calls to friends who lived in Owen. That was the last time anyone had seen or heard from him.

If he was trying to get into Owen hall , was he asking the freinds to open a door, and if not why didnt he if he could not gain access. For it seems it is verified he did call freinds who were inside the hall and could i presume open a door for him.

Anonymous said...

i wonder was his dad a policeman?

Anonymous said...

In September a young man named Luke Homan is last seen at the Vibe bar.In November a young man from Bellingham and another from Belton is missing.The one from Belton is nicknamed Opie Cunningham and worked for a radio station called the Vibe.Wade Steffy was at a party at Ross road the day of his disappearance .Nick Rossini was missing in December and Jesse Ross in November.Patterns do not keep repeating like this on their own.This is organized murder

Maureen said...

Since my son was a student at Purdue when Wade died, I read the huge document posted online regarding the college's investigation into Wade's death. He had been drinking, had made other phone calls to people outside the area who heard him rambling on the other end & thought it was a crank call. He was electrocuted because he stuck his finger into a transformer.

Anonymous said...

Well this is what I think could have happened. He could have been intentionaly electrocted. This incident was less than one month after Rossini was missing. Rossini was found in Goose lake. Then someone could have sent an anonymous note that sounded like nonsense to law enforcement. It would have said something like I just made fried chicken.With Rossini something like "I cooked his goose".

From a 2003 article
Milwaukee agents are investigating an Ann Arbor, Mich., man accused of stalking an old girlfriend and her family. In threatening e-mail messages, he uses the initials of some of the missing men,

Wade Steffy was on West Stadium

Max Walker was in Milwaukee Wisconsin

Someone claiming to be Adam Smith claimed to see 2 suspicious men when Anthony Skifton went missing

Brian Shaffer went to OSU. The Buckeyes play there at Ross Stadium.

Walker was at The Buckhead Saloon.

Rossini went missing shortly after Ross went missing.

Anonymous said...

OSUis the Buckeyes. perdue where Wade went is Ross stadium

Its a lot to keep straight with so many deaths mirroring each other.