4 charged with hazing after students disappear in river

Posted at 3:05 PM, Apr 23, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-23 18:05:31-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Four people were charged with five counts of hazing following an incident that lead to the disappearance of two Virginia State University students and at least one student's drowning, according to Chesterfield Police.

James A. Mackey Sr., Eriq K. Benson, Cory D. Baytop and Charles E. Zollicoffer II, were each charged with five counts of hazing.  The hazing charges are misdemeanors.

Mackey, Sr., 35, was arrested Monday. He is free on bond and due back in court Thursday. Baytop was also arrested, but police are still searching for Zollicoffer.

Anyone with information about Zollicoffer's whereabouts should call Chesterfield police at 804-748-1251 or Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660. [Click here for previous coverage on this story]

Police said the men are all associated with the Men of Honor. The group is a non-university sanctioned organization that attracts students from VSU and other schools.

Police said the charges stem from an incident where seven VSU students tried to cross the Appomattox River around 1:30 a.m. Saturday as part of a Men of Honor initiation ritual. The river's strong current swept the students down river. Officials said  some were pulled to safety and others drifted to shore. However, two students were reported missing.

Witnesses also told CBS 6 that Virginia State University freshmen Jauwan Holmes and Marvell Edmondson disappeared in the Appomattox River during a Men of Honor “initiation ritual.”

Virginia State students Michael Aiken and Christian Cavazos said they were two of seven students who participated in the ritual. They said part of the ritual was to swim the Appomattox River.

Crews recovered Edmondson's body on Monday, Chesterfield Police said. The river search resumed Tuesday morning for Holmes but was suspended around 5:30. Crews will return to the river Wednesday at 9 a.m.

Depend on CBS 6 News for complete coverage of this important local story. 

VSU Hazing Arrests