Reporting Denise Koch
BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Killed at college. It’s the last thing they expected but it’s happened again and again to Maryland families—including Congressman Elijah Cummings, whose nephew was murdered.
Denise Koch investigates campus crime and what parents can do to keep their children safe.
Christopher Cummings, an honor student at Old Dominion University, was gunned down while sleeping.
“He was literally executed,” said his uncle, Congressman Elijah Cummings.
Dominique Frazier, a student poet at Bowie State University, was stabbed to death in her dorm.
Yeardley Love, lacrosse star at the University of Virginia, was bludgeoned to death.
Police say all three were killed by someone in a fit of rage.
“It is an emotional trauma,” Cummings said.
Each year, violent crime strikes thousands of college students. In the past 10 years, several hundred have been murdered on or near a college campus.
“My family had never experienced a death like this,” Cummings said.
Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings, a powerful voice in Washington, says he can’t get over the murder of his nephew, a young man he loved like a son.
“A young person who’s trying to do the right thing—working hard, getting good grades,” Cummings said. “Happy. And the next thing you know, they’re dead.”
Last June, Christopher Cummings, 20, had everything to live for. He was studying criminal science and hoping to go into public service, just like his Uncle Elijah. He was living in a house in Norfolk with two fraternity brothers.
“There were three of them. They kill him and he’s falling down the steps and the roommate who’s downstairs opens the door and says, `Christopher,’ and they then shot the roommate four times. Four times,” Cummings said. “When I went to visit that house for the first time and saw blood splattered all over the walls, down the carpet and to know the same blood runs in my hands…it was tough.”
Forty percent of violent crimes at college involve students hurting other students.
“Once you get behind a closed door, anything can happen,” said adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Jack Vaeth.
Cummings, Frazier and Love were all killed at college.
“I think clearly anger management is an issue,” Vaeth said.
Vaeth says parents must help their children deal with rejection and failure before sending them away to school.
“Where did I learn that if something doesn’t go my way, I can physically injure someone?” he said.
Vaeth warns parents to stay close to their kids, even when they are far away.
“Text them, call them. They won’t call you back, they might not text you back, but they’ll know you’re there, you’re interested, and when there is a problem, they know where they can go directly,” he said.
View more with Dr. Vaeth:
“I think it’s so sad that you send your kid to college to get an education and to nurture their talents and their abilities and they come back to you in a coffin,” Cummings said.
Cummings says police have a person of interest in his nephew’s murder but no one has been charged.