Wednesday, March 21, 2007

More About What Killed Wade Steffey

Purdue checks their electrical utility rooms once a year? From the following link:

"June 2006 was the last time someone performed maintenance on high-voltage equipment in a room where Wade S. Steffey was found Monday."

So, the door to the outside is left open, accidentally. What an incredible breach of security! And the only time anyone was in there was during the search, when, apparently, somebody glanced inside and didn't see anything...did the searcher not see anything because Wade was behind a transformer, as stated in the article, or was he not there? Of course, that possibility is pure speculation on my part, as there has not been any hint of foul play in this case. Still, his friends said he was not drunk when he left the party. Yet, he forgot his coat. In Indiana. In January. I've been in Indiana in January; my coat, and hat, and boots and gloves were never far from my mind.

Some very interesting comments with this entry by Steve Huff. Please read especially the first comment. Some interesting comments under the same article posted at

At both places, former Purdue students who have been following the case have checked in. Reading there, I see that my suspicion, paranoid or not, is shared by quite a few.

I wonder if an autopsy will show whether or not he was drunk.

Even The Early Show on CBS this morning was a bit concerned:

"The same university that couldn't find Wade Steffey for two months has promised a complete investigation."

Perhaps an independent investigation might be in order.

The university spokesperson said that the room was "too dangerous to search." They would have had to "shut off power" to the dorm, in order to search the room. Gee...(sarcasm)...can't have that! All the students might grumble if they can't get to their MySpace for a few minutes!

Can you tell that I have ambivalent feelings about this?

Questions, questions.


  1. I went to Purdue, and I can tell you that not one single franternity party I ever went to did I take my coat, even in the dead of winter. You don't want it to get stolen, so I don't find that at all unusuall that he didn't take his coat with him to the party. I can also tell you, that if you don't live in a dorm at Purdue you can't get in after a certain time, so obviously he was just trying to find a way in, and unfortunatly he picked the wrong door. This has been a horrible tradgedy for the Steffey family and everyone at Purdue, but it is what it is, an accident. It could have happened to anyone their freshman year of college, drunk or sober. We aren't the ones to be pointing fingers here though, don't you think that everyone involved has suffered enough?

  2. Anonymous -- hy are you trying to quash people's questioning of this? What do you have to gain by it? Are you part of the difficulty?

    This young man deserves a decent investigation into his tragic death. His parents deserve it. His friends deserve it. The students at Purdue deserve it. And it definitely should be an *independent* investigation.

    The evidence points to something fishy, in fact several fishy bits, about the circumstances surrounding Wade's death. My gut-level feeling is that the boy was placed there recently in the utility room. Why would the stench and the "pinging" noises from his electrocution begin after Spring Break if he had been there all that time, for two months? Everybody would have noticed.

    The students at Purdue deserve to know what happened. If I had a son or daughter at Purdue, I would want to know that the boy's death had been fully researched by outside experts. I would also want reassurance form Purdue that they would make their campus safer for students -- put those damn signs up, even if they weren't required legally -- they're needed for our children's safety, dammit! Where was campus security? Why wasn't there a better search on campus? What do we pay tuition for to get this kind of shabby treatment?

  3. I too think there may be something fishy here. At the very least, the search of the dorm should have been better, a room that dangerous should be impossible for a student to enter, among other things.

    But, I will say that we had a very warm January in Indiana, and it is very possible he could have gone out without a jacket. I don't know about that specific day, but the month was warm enough that daffodils started to come up, my butterfly bushes and clematis were almost completely greened out and flowering trees started to bud. There were many times I didn't even put a coat on my toddler, just a sweatshirt.

    Growing up in Michigan, a couple hours north of Purdue, so generally colder weather, in high school I would walk almost a mile to school with no hat, gloves, scarf or boots, just to avoid looking like a dork. For some reason my feeble teenage brain thought I looked better freezing and being obviously inappropriately dressed. I was a bit better in college, but I don't think I usually wore a coat to parties. Too much of a pain to hang on to, and if you didn't, it would probably end up stolen or mistakenly taken by some other drunk kid.

    Not trying to say at all that there are not questions to be answered in this case. Even if it was an accidental death exactly as presented, there is incompetance on more than one front to be addressed. But as a nearly lifelong midwesterner, and knowing this winter's weather in Indiana, the jacket thing isn't something to focus on.

  4. I'm with you, w.m.b.

    Anonymous is not a good advertisement for Purdue, with his poor spelling, reading comprehension, and grammar.

    Wade was leaving the party at that dorm. If he was trying to get back in, it was to get his coat, which he supposedly HAD taken to the party with him, but had LEFT at the party.

    I have a lot more to say, and will write another entry.

  5. Darr, I didn't even scroll down far enough to read your comment before responding to the other two.

    It was January 13. I don't know how warm it was, either.

  6. In response to Ronni - I thought he was at Owen, left to go to Phi Kappa Theta to party, then on his way back home to Cary Quad, stopped at Owen to get his coat. I too went to Purdue and never wore a coat to a party or the bars, so this makes sense. One thing I read on the blogs is that access to dorms is limited for those that don't live there after certain hours? It was definately not that way when I went to Purdue 1993-1996. I heard it was restriced way back in the day, but the only rule in my day was no opposite gender overnighters...but they never said anything if you did. Public access to the buildings was definately not restricted. I really can't see why he would have even tried to go in that room unless he was really really cold and couldn't wait to get to the main doors. Maybe he thought it was a shortcut? Seems odd. Four years there, I never even noticed those doors. However, there were plenty of times when I was 'under the influence' to the point where I could have easily wandered into something stupid. I agree, that it seems really odd, however, having lived that exact life, I think its likely that it happened as reported.

  7. Whoa....I just saw the door at Owen on a channel 8 (WISH TV - Indianapolis) clip.
    The door is somewhat sublevel and has a railing around it. He would have had to jump the rail. Very odd. My wife, a boiler, also doesn't understand why he would have ever tried to go in there. I really want to hear from a current student on access to dorms late at night. I would be suprised if it was restricted as anonymous claimed.

  8. To see what Bender is referring to, scroll down at the link and watch the video titled, "Body Found on Purdue Campus Identified as Steffey."

    Bender, the party was at Owen, as I understand it. He had left the party and was trying to go back for his coat. It makes no sense to me that he would try to enter that door. It also makes no sense that nobody would notice any odour for two whole months. Fabric softener or no, that odour is the worst!

  9. I just checked archived weather data, and it was about 38 degrees that day, but it had been 20 degrees warmer the day before.

    As for entry into dorms after hours, at Michigan State 20 years ago (which feels like about 10 minutes ago) you had to show your i.d. to get in after a certain time. (midnight?) But you could sign in a guest, so if he had known anyone in the dorm the checker (another student) would just have called up to that person's room and had them come sign you in.

    If he was going to someone's room anyway, it wouldn't have been a big deal to call them to have them sign you in. Or just bring your coat down if you left it there. Certainly easier than supposedly breaking into a dorm.

    I was in an all-girl dorm, so you couldn't check boys in, but that was not an issue at the co-ed dorms - which means all the other dorms on campus.

    I don't know about Purdue, and it wasn't recently, but that is fairly standard procedure at many colleges.

    As for the smell of death, that is what seems so wrong here. You can smell a dead mouse in a basement all through the house within a few days, I find it impossible to believe you wouldn't smell a decaying, charred body. The fabric softener theory is laughable. If anything, laundry rooms tend to be hot and humid and amplify smells, not mask them.

  10. Alright guys...I went to Purdue and the coat thing is bunk. We just didn't wear them out to party, ever, no matter the weather. Also, I just read ( that he was returning to get his coat at owen after partying at Phi Kappa Theta. (Very little partying occurs in the dorms at Purdue, maybe a few secret beers, but no WiLD PArTy!) Phi Kaps is not terribly far from owen. It is probably the closest dorm to the acres, where PKT is located. Also, just talked to a buddy of mine from Purdue who has a little brother there now, and he knows that the students have to badge into the dorms after hours and you can only badge into your own dorm hall, not others. I would assume that his friends in owen were drunk and/or asleep so he thought he would 'break' in to the dorm through this door. I assume he tried to call or ring the room first. The only part I really don't understand is the lack of smell complaints for two months. I would have thought the smell, both inside and outside, would have been a red flag, especially with the whole world looking for this kid RIGHT THERE!