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Gallaudet Slaying Marks Second Murder of the Year

Aired February 5, 2001 - 4:05 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

JOIE CHEN, CNN ANCHOR: Security has been beefed up at a Washington, D.C. college for the hearing-impaired, after a student was found stabbed to death there over the weekend. Now, this is the second time a student has been killed at Gallaudet University this school year.

Kathleen Koch has the latest from Washington.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is a campus in shock, stunned at the gruesome murder of a student in the same dormitory where another freshman was found beaten to death in September.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope that someone will get caught, and if there is a connection between the first murder and this, I sure hope this -- I hope that they will solve it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are all scared and very concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I'm concerned, because it's just devastating to know. I've been working here for 22 years now, and this is the second incident with less than a couple of months.

KOCH: 19-year-old Benjamin Varner was found in his room Saturday morning, dead from multiple stab wounds to the head and body. Four months ago, 19-year-old Eric Plunkett was found murdered in his room, also in Cogswell Hall. A Gallaudet student was arrested and then released in that killing, which remains unsolved.

SGT. JOE GENTLE, WASHINGTON POLICE SPOKESMAN: At this time, there's no evidence to indicate there's a link between the two murders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We thought that the worst was over. We are ready to start new semester, and now we're going through the same thing again. It's unreal.

KOCH: Police, so far, have no suspect and no motive. Officers are checking IDs at the front gate. They're now requiring students entering dormitories to sign in and show an ID card.

Gallaudet University has also purchased security scanners to limit student access to the dormitory floors where they live, and until then, is enlisting help from volunteers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've called all faculty and staff to come to the dorms and stay there overnight so that there is someone in each wing to walk up and down.

KOCH: Varner's family came to the campus from San Antonio, Texas to share their grief and ask for help.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to tell the killer, you're not getting over on me and I'm not going to let your evil consume me.

KOCH (on camera): University officials say the dormitory, where the murder occurred, will stay closed for the remainder of the semester. Police officials continue questioning residents there to see if anyone saw anything that could lead them to the killer.

Kathleen Koch for CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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