Body confirmed as Baylor player Patrick Dennehy

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 28, 2003

WACO, Texas (AP) - Medical examiners on Sunday identified a body found in chest-high weeds near Waco as that of Baylor University basketball player Patrick Dennehy, who had been missing since June 19.

McLennan County Sheriff Larry Lynch provided no other details on the condition of the body or the possible cause of death, but said Dennehy's family had been notified.

Carlton Dotson, who played basketball at Baylor last season and had been living with Dennehy since spring, has been charged with his murder. The site where the body was found is north of gravel pits where authorities searched after Dotson's arrest last week.

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Investigators continued to comb through the high weeds Sunday, collecting evidence in a field where they found Dennehy's decomposed body Friday night. It was taken to the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

McLennan County Justice of the Peace Belinda Summers told The Associated Press that searchers found a head Sunday morning in the same field where the body was discovered.

''With that evidence collected today, they were able to make a positive identification,'' Lynch said, refusing to specify what evidence was found.

On Sunday, authorities used farm equipment to cut down tall weeds and grass, some as high as 7 feet tall, in a rural area about five miles south of Waco.

Dotson, 21, was arrested July 21 in his home state of Maryland on the murder charge from Texas. He remained jailed without bond awaiting extradition to Texas.

Dotson was arrested after calling 911, saying he needed help because he was hearing voices, authorities said. Dotson told FBI agents in Maryland that he shot Dennehy after the player tried to shoot him, according to the arrest warrant affidavit. But after his arrest, Dotson told The Associated Press that he ''didn't confess to anything.''

An investigator in a cowboy hat was placing small yellow flags around the site indicating pieces of evidence on Sunday. At times, as he moved around, the grasses obscured all but the top of his hat. Throughout the day, authorities in crime scene vans and other vehicles traveled the dirt road back and forth to the site.

Lynch has declined to say exactly where the body was found or if a weapon had been recovered. Dennehy's girlfriend, Jessica De La Rosa of Albuquerque, N.M., said authorities told her the body was found in weeds near the gravel pits.

Dennehy's family has decided not return to Waco, De La Rosa said Sunday afternoon, hours before the identification was announced. Dennehy's mother and stepfather, Valorie and Brian Brabazon, and their teenage daughter had been in Albuquerque since dropping off De La Rosa there early Saturday morning but left for their home Sunday, she said.

''Technically, there's nothing we can do out there,'' De La Rosa said Sunday afternoon. Reached Sunday night, De La Rosa was sobbing and said she could not comment after learning that the body was Dennehy's.

The Brabazons traveled to Waco from their Carson City, Nev., home for the first time last week to retrieve the 6-foot-10 center's belongings. The family and the player's girlfriend left Waco on Friday after a three-hour meeting with police, and said they believed Dennehy could still be alive.

Dotson and Dennehy arrived last summer in Waco, about 100 miles south of Fort Worth, on basketball scholarships. Baylor is the world's largest Baptist university with 14,000 students.

Dotson was a transfer from Paris Junior College in East Texas and eligible to play. Dennehy, because of NCAA rules, had to sit out a year after transferring from New Mexico, where he was kicked off the team for losing his temper.

Dennehy's family reported him missing June 19, about seven days after he was last seen on campus. Dennehy's vehicle was found abandoned in a Virginia Beach, Va., parking lot June 25.

An unnamed informant told Delaware police that Dotson told someone he shot Dennehy in the head as the two argued while shooting in the Waco area, according to court documents filed June 23.

Richard Guinn, whose son R.T. Guinn plays basketball at Baylor, said he and his son were saddened by the news.

''It's devastating,'' Richard Guinn said Sunday night. ''It's sad on our part and everybody else's, for Waco and Baylor, and yet it's closure that now we know we found him. I wish he'd been found alive.''

Baylor President Robert Sloan notified faculty, staff, students and alumni about the identification Sunday night, saying in an e-mail that ''today our worst fears were realized.'' He asked Baylor employees to pray for Dennehy's family and for Dotson.

''Baylor has endured the heart-wrenching loss of students before, but never in such a startling and perplexing manner,'' Sloan wrote. ''… We grieve the loss of Patrick and the impact of that loss on the Baylor community.''