Investigation Reports Released in Death of UK Student Lofton Hazelwood

Courtesy of UK Media Relations

By Jay Blanton Wednesday

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Dec. 22, 2021) — The University of Kentucky today released details of two extensive internal investigations of the incident that resulted in the death of UK student Lofton Hazelwood at FarmHouse fraternity house in October.

The following are major findings after several weeks of investigations:

  • The reviews found no evidence of physical coercion or forced drinking associated with Hazlewood’s death. At least one new member who was present where the incident occurred did not drink at all.
  • However, the reviews found that FarmHouse Chapter members practiced hazing throughout the semester, creating a culture of non-compliance in which such activities were accepted. 
  • There is no evidence of criminal wrongdoing directly related to Hazelwood’s death, based on the findings of the institution’s investigations to date.
  • Fraudulent identification cards were purchased by members, which is illegal. UK Police will be working with local, state and federal partners to address the increased use of fraudulent identification cards purchased online.
  • Outside the context of the specific incident, the investigations yielded findings of several violations of university policy and the Code of Student Conduct, including hazing; underage drinking and misuse of alcohol; and failure to follow UK’s COVID-19 Health and Safety Guidelines.

Based on these findings after extensive reviews, the following actions are taking place:

  • The National FarmHouse Chapter has revoked the charter of the local FarmHouse chapter at UK.
  • Further, the national chapter has issued a no-contact order, meaning the now former members of the local FarmHouse cannot have any association with the organization for seven years.
  • UK is revoking the status of FarmHouse as a Registered Student Organization (RS)) for at least four years.
  • Individual students, because of the review, could be charged with violations of UK’s Code of Student Conduct and will go through the institution’s process review and hearing process.
  • Enhanced and expanded education around required responsibilities for all new members of UK Interfraternity Council (IFC) chapters must be completed before activities can be resumed. Those education and responsibility programs include peer mentoring and education, alcohol awareness and bystander intervention education and training.
  • Increased staffing within Fraternity and Sorority Life has been — and is being — added with additional responsibilities for alcohol education and hazing prevention.

Detailed summaries of both the UK Police and Dean of Students Office are available here.

Hazelwood was a student from Henderson, Kentucky. He was found unresponsive in a room in the FarmHouse Chapter in the early evening hours of Oct. 18. Emergency officials were called to the chapter house, and Hazelwood was rushed to UK’s A.B. Chandler Hospital, where attempts to revive him were unsuccessful.

“Lofton Hazelwood was 18 years old — his life full of promise and potential,” UK President Eli Capilouto said. “He was a cherished member of our community, loved by his friends and family and poised to continue leading a life of meaning and purpose. His passing is a reminder that life is precious. It also is fragile. As a community, we are mourning his death. We are embracing his family. We are supporting his friends and classmates. We are working to understand exactly what happened and how we can prevent tragedies like this from happening again.”

Following Hazelwood’s death, the university took the following actions:

  • Immediately launched two independent investigations: one by UK Police and one by the UK Office of Student Conduct.
  • Immediately prohibited any ongoing activities at the FarmHouse Chapter.
  • Immediately prohibited any new member activities in any fraternity chapter at UK.

The two extensive investigations included nearly 50 interviews collectively, reviews of available video evidence and hundreds of thousands of messages and exchanges on relevant social media channels and platforms.

The UK Police investigation is not final at this time. Two search warrants for specific social media content involving FarmHouse members have not been returned and may be outstanding for several weeks. But UK Police believe that the investigation’s outcomes will not materially change based on these materials and that they are able to draw initial conclusions.

The Student Conduct investigation is also not final, as a process is underway to pursue conduct charges against the chapter as a student organization and, potentially, individual members.

But as with the police investigation, the results of the review are not expected to change in a material fashion.

When the reviews are formally completed, the reports will be publicly posted, subject to redaction for federal privacy laws.

The full preliminary findings are available here.

Editor’s note: Earlier this week UK Police reported no charges would be filed in connection with Hazelwood’s death. A toxicology report confirmed Hazelwood died of alcohol toxicity, saying his blood alcohol content at the time of his death was .354. The coroner’s office says UK Police found no foul play in the case and therefore no charges would be forthcoming.

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