Hazing News

Multiple arrests in death of Nebraska Farmhouse member

Thank you to Dean for the update.  This will be added as a hazing/pledging related death, although the charges of serving alcohol to a minor where a fatality then occurs are far more serious (possible 5-year sentence) in terms of possible sanctions. The following is the best coverage available on the update.

By Jonathan Edwards

Four FarmHouse fraternity members were jailed Thursday afternoon on suspicion of giving an 18-year-old the alcohol that killed him, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials are suspending the chapter indefinitely.

The arrests came nearly two months after Clayton Real, an 18-year-old freshman in his second week of college, died in his room at the fraternity at 3601 Apple St. A fellow fraternity member found him at 7:30 the morning of Sept. 5.

Investigators found that Real had attended a “frosh party” FarmHouse hosted the previous evening at 2009 S. 16th St., UNL Assistant Chief Charlotte Evans said in an email.

FarmHouse members provided alcohol to residents of the house in exchange for hosting the party, Evans said. Witnesses told investigators that organizers also gave alcohol to Real and other underage party-goers.

Real’s blood alcohol tested at .378 — 4½ times the legal limit to drive — and a pathologist ruled that his cause of death was acute alcohol intoxication, Evans said.

Police jailed the four fraternity members Thursday on suspicion of felony procuring alcohol to a minor resulting in death.

They are Vance A. Heyer, 21, vice president; Thomas D. Trueblood, 19, freshman social chair; Cory F. Foland, 21, new member educator; and Ross E. Reynolds, 22, member.

They face five years in prison after a 2011 law made procuring alcohol for a minor a felony if the minor dies as a result.

Police also cited three other UNL students: FarmHouse member William J. Miller, 21, for misdemeanor procuring alcohol and Marin L. Hartfield and Lauren A. Williams, both 20, for maintaining a disorderly house.

Police are still investigating but don’t expect more arrests.

UNL officials were in the process of suspending the chapter indefinitely, which means freshmen members will have to move out of FarmHouse and into university housing, spokesman Steve Smith said Thursday evening.

There are about three dozen active FarmHouse chapters, most of them in the Midwest and South, according to the Kansas City-based organization’s website.

Mark Fahleson, the local FarmHouse chapter’s spokesman, couldn’t be reached Thursday for comment.

Students charged in connection with Real’s death could face university sanctions once their cases are resolved, but it’s too soon to know what those consequences might be, Smith said.

“We’re watching this process very closely,” he added.

Real, from Grafton, was majoring in agricultural economics and eventually planned to go back to his hometown to work on the family farm and feedlot, his mom said in September. In high school, he played football and competed in rodeos, something he planned to continue doing at UNL.

He was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was 5 and had to use an insulin pump to manage it. His mother, Kelli Real, said he was very familiar with handling the disease.

The night after Real died, more than 1,000 mourners gathered in front of the Nebraska Union for a candlelight vigil. The vigil also remembered Keaton Klein, a senior accounting major from Lincoln who died July 14 while in the Czech Republic.

By Hank Nuwer

Journalist Hank Nuwer is the Alaska author of Hazing: Destroying Young Lives; Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His current book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press. He is married to Malgorzata Wroblewska Nuwer of Warsaw, Poland and Fairbanks, Alaska. Nuwer is a former columnist for the Greenville (Ohio)Early Bird and former managing editor of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner in Alaska.
Nuwer was named the Ohio Society of Professional Journalists columnist of the year in 2021 for his “After Darke” column in the Early Bird. He also won third place for the column in 2022 from the Indiana chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. He and his wife Gosia, recently of Union City, Ind., have owned 20 acres in Alaska for many years. “The move is a sort-of coming home for us,” said Nuwer. As a journalist, he’s written about the Alaskan Iditarod sled-dog race and other Alaska topics. Read his musings in his blog at Real Alaska Daily-- and in his weekly column "Far from Randolph" in the Winchester Star-Gazette of Randolph County, Indiana.

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