September 1, 2010

08/28/10: Khalil King, 19, Ithaca, NY

On the evening of Saturday, August 28, 2010, Khalil King, a 19-year-old from Cornell University was reported missing. King had last been seen at about 3 a.m. that morning while walking on the upper gorge trail near the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity, also known as the "FIJI" fraternity. A friend said King saw something and ran west; he then lost contact with the sophomore. " has reported the something spooked King before he ran off. Attempts to call or locate him throughout the day were unsuccessful," said Cornell Director of Press Relations Claudia Wheatley.

Approximately 30 people from multiple agencies--including members of the Cornell University Police Department, the Ithaca Police Department, New York State Police, the Ithaca Fire Department and Cornell Environmental Health and Safety--were involved in the search.

The Ithaca Fire Department and Cornell University police searched the area around where King was last seen, but because of darkness and the hazardous terrain, the search was suspended at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday. The team resumed their search at 9 a.m. Sunday, joined by the Ithaca police, and staff from the Cornell Environmental Health and Safety department. The area east of the Stewart Avenue bridge above Ithaca Falls was searched, and a state police helicopter was also used.

On Sunday (8/29/10), emergency crews recovered a body lying in a deep pool of water in the south end of Fall Creek gorge. Police identified it as that of the missing student. The body was found between the pedestrian suspension bridge and Stewart Avenue Bridge near the 800 block of Stewart Avenue. Firefighters, and the Ithaca and Cornell police and Bangs Ambulance, carried the body out through the Willard Way tunnel, part of a former 19th century industrial water mill, shortly after 1:30 p.m.

No foul play is suspected, according to police. The Ithaca Police Department is continuing the investigation, and anyone with information is urged to contact them at 272-9973.

About Khalil King

On August 31, 2010, several hundred people attended a candlelight vigil commemorating the life of Khalil King.

The Cornell Daily Sun reported that "King’s mother came out and spoke of her son: 'my pride, my joy, my reason for breathing.'" She said, “a lot of questions are still not answered,” and that she “will never be satisfied until those questions are answered” by either “something from the Cornell community” or from the “divine hand of God.”

According to the Sun, "Throughout the night, filled with poems, letters and songs for King, a picture of him emerged as a gregarious, multi-talented thinker and doer, willing to cross the lines of social convention....Friend Felema Yemane, Class of 2014, recalled going to different places with King, including the Cornell Democrats, Cornell Republicans and a socialist organization, and recalled a time when the two spent “three hours discussing abortion” in Willard Straight Hall. King was “open to other people’s ideas and thoughts,” Yemane said."

King was described as being the kind of friend "who would do anything for you at the drop of a dime." His many friends enjoyed his magnetic, perhaps even a bit quirky, personality. He was described as an “amazing artist,” who had once made a landscape of Ithaca appearing in the eye of his self-portrait.

King had recently transferred from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences to the College of Architecture, Art and Planning.

King was a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and a 2009 graduate of Independence High School.
Vice President Susan Murphy ’73 also spoke at the event, saying that the “best tribute we can give Khalil is to build those bridges across the communities he touched.”

She urged the crowd to “make sure you’re here for one another,” while admitting the difficulty of “trying to understand something that makes no sense.”


Anonymous said...

Once again a death near the gorge and suspension bridge at Cornel, an extremely prestigious school. This has to be what the 6th death in less than two years. Maybe it's just an anomaly, like all those NYU suicides that were on the news years back, but something doesn't feel right about King's in my opinion. Of course that Cornel freshman's fall from a stairwell( he was in a fraternity as well, the same one?)l didn't sound that convincing either, but then again, statistically speaking #1 cause of death for college age males is "accidents". Of course he said that he saw something weird or something, and then his body is found near that gorge, so terrible.

Jennifer said...

does the "friend's" story check out? did he participate in the search? was he willing to answer some of the mom's questions? way too many deaths on one campus to be a coincidence. Bradley ginsburg missing on 02/16/10, was a new member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. He was found in the gorge the next day.

Will said...

this website is a disgrace. You sit there hundreds of miles away and speculate about a tragic death that you know nothing about. You should be ashamed. You cast aspersions on his friends who you have never met and demean their friendships, all because you have nothing better to do than create stupid conspiracy theories about stuff that is completely and obviously coincidental. Cornell is surrounded by gorges that, until now, have been poorly fenced off. Do you really think that it's more likely that some cunt is running around throwing people off the gorge than someone just falling off the edge?

Lisa said...


I am very sorry to hear about your loss. Please read the "About This Site" tab to learn more about my motives for this site. In doing so, I hope you'll see that this is not a conspiracy theory site and that I have good intentions.

What happened to Khalil King--all these young men, in fact--is tragic and action needs to be taken so that such deaths do not happen again. As you mentioned, better fences in Ithaca may be one answer. Different solutions may be needed in other cities.

The bottom line is that in the past ten years there appears to be an increase in the number of deaths of college-age men. I am trying to raise awareness about this so that someone can find out why. There seem to be a number of equally valid explanations, but none of them have ever been thoroughly investigated. I believe this needs to be approached from a public health and safety standpoint. What is causing this increase?