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Body of student drowned in alleged Virginia hazing identified

By Gary Robertson

(Reuters) - Police on Friday identified the body of a second Virginia State University student who had gone missing last week while attempting to cross the Appomattox River during what they call a hazing incident.

Seven male students were swept away as they tried to cross the river on April 20 as part of their initiation into an unsanctioned college social club known as "Men of Honor," police said.

Five of the students got out of the river, but 19-year-old freshmen Marvell Edmondson and Jauwan Holmes went missing.

Edmondson's body was recovered on Monday. Holmes' body was found two days later, but not positively identified until Friday, the Chesterfield County, Virginia, police department said in a statement.

Police have charged four men, including two Virginia State freshmen, with five counts each of hazing. Three of those charged have been arrested and a fourth was being sought.

Virginia State held a service of remembrance on Friday for the two students who drowned, which was attended by several hundred students and faculty members.

Referring to the initiation ceremony in which students were told to walk across the river, University President Keith Miller said that such "outdated rituals" have no place on the campus.

Michael Shackleford, the university's vice president of student affairs, told Reuters in an interview that he knew of four families who had removed students from the school temporarily because of the trauma associated with the drownings.

Shackleford said one of the Virginia State freshmen charged with hazing in the drowning had left the university at his family's request.

(Editing by Paul Thomasch and Richard Chang)

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