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VCU student found dead was blindfolded when he fell into tree, cousin says

'He was such a good kid. He only wanted to be accepted,' father says
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Posted at 11:18 PM, Feb 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-01 13:01:29-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- Adam Oakes, the Virginia Commonwealth University student found dead Saturday morning in an off-campus residence, is being remembered as a kind-hearted sports fanatic who loved playing basketball and adored his family.

"He would do anything for anyone that asked," said Courtney White, Oakes’ cousin. “He loved his mom, they had a really special bond -- his dad, too."

Eric Oakes said his son chose VCU to be closer to his family in northern Virginia.

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VCU student Adam Oakes

The couple’s only child came home nearly every weekend -- except this last one.

A Loudoun County officer delivered the news Saturday morning that Oakes was dead.

"He was such a good kid,” Eric Oakes said. “He only wanted to be accepted and he wanted to be friends with people."

Oakes’ death is now under investigation by both Richmond and VCU Police after the 19-year-old was found Saturday morning unresponsive in an off-campus residence on West Clay Street.

"Officers arrived and found Oakes down and unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene," a Richmond Police spokesperson said. "The Medical Examiner will determine cause and manner of death."

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Clay Street

Oakes’ family said he had just received a bid to join the Delta Chi fraternity.

While police have not confirmed that, the family said heavy drinking was involved and that at one point Oakes was blindfolded.

"I'm sorry, he just couldn't. I don't think he could handle it," White said. "He ended up falling into a tree, hitting his head on a tree. We don't know if he passed out or was unconscious. We're not sure how he ended up on the couch."

Following his death, the Delta Chi fraternity was dealt a cease-and-desist order by the national chapter and the university.

"RPD Major Crimes detectives are working with the VCU Police Department in this death investigation," police said.

VCU and Oakes’ family are encouraging anyone who might have information to please come forward.

Additionally, the university encouraged students in need of support to contact University Counseling at 804-828-6200.

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Courtney White and Eric Oakes

His family said he had a wonderful life and promising future.

"Unfortunately, his [life] was cut short before he was able to follow any of his dreams or he was able to do any of the amazing things that other people do: getting married, having kids,” White said. “Those blessings in life, he'll never have."

A GoFundMe has been established to help the family with funeral expenses. At last check Sunday, the campaign had raised more than $25,000.

"He had just such a big heart, you know,” Oakes' father said. “And he's leaving a massive hole in my heart and our family."

Anyone with information about the case is asked to call Richmond Police Detective M. Gouldman at 804-646-3915 or VCU Police at 804-828-1196. The P3 Tips Crime Stoppers app for smartphones also may be used. All Crime Stoppers reporting methods are anonymous.

This is a developing story, so anyone with more information can email newstips@wtvr.com to send a tip.