Pledge Killers: Clemson Sophomore Death Remains a Mystery

Pledge Killers: Clemson Sophomore Death Remains a Mystery
| Staff

Did he jump? Was he pushed? How did the body of nineteen year-old Clemson University fraternity pledge Tucker Hipps mysteriously wash up on shore last September? After all he had been participating in a run with 29 other students that were supposed to be his “brothers”.

On September 22, three fraternity members and 27 pledges, including Hipps, met at Clemson’s Donaldson Hall at 5:30 a.m.. Hipps was ordered to bring food for everyone and when he arrived empty-handed, the fraternity members were allegedly angry. The pledges and brothers at the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity then went for a group run.

At 1 p.m. members of the fraternity notified campus police that he was missing after he had lagged behind on the run and never made it to breakfast. Later that day Hipp’s body was discovered lying in rocky, shallow water under a bridge the group had crossed in their run. A coroner ruled Hipps died from “blunt force trauma” consistent with a “downward head-first falling injury.” While all evidence shows that he fell 25 feet to his death, no one else on that run claimed to have seen it.

Now his parents are suing the university and fraternity over the death of their son and allege a cover-up, reports CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann. Cindy and Gary Hipps filed two civil suits that seek $50 million in damages that allege there was a fatal confrontation on the bridge.

For his mother Cindy, identifying the body of her son “was the worst moment of (her) life.”

“Because I can still see his face,” Cindy said. “I wake up at night and I have all the good memories of him. But I have that memory.”

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