The Cornell University Police have concluded a year-long investigation into the death of Cornell University freshman Antonio Tsialas, who was found deceased in Fall Creek gorge on October 26, 2019. The investigation found that Tsialas had attended and participated in an unregistered and clandestinely planned recruiting event at the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house on the evening of October 24, 2019. During this event, members of the fraternity hosted Tsialas and other potential new member invitees, provided them with alcohol, and encouraged them to participate in a variety of drinking games, violating a number of Cornell policies.
Cornell Police investigators conducted approximately 150 interviews and followed up on nearly 100 other individual leads in an attempt to determine how and why Tsialas died. Investigators were not able to determine Tsialas’ path of travel after leaving the fraternity, or why he was at the overlook. CUPD did not identify any evidence or reason to suspect foul play at that location, and the death remains an accidental death due to a fall from a height as classified by the medical examiner.
CUPD referred Phi Kappa Psi to the Office of Sorority and Fraternity Life for serious violations of the Expectations for Membership, the Event Management Guidelines, the Fraternity and Sorority Recognition Policy, and the Anti-Hazing Policy. After a hearing, Cornell revoked recognition of this fraternity permanently, meaning it will no longer be allowed to operate as part of the Cornell community. Additionally, 31 students were referred by CUPD to the Cornell University Judicial Administrator’s Office for violations of the Campus Code of Conduct. Specific information regarding the adjudication of individual referrals cannot be released because of privacy protections in the Campus Code of Conduct and a federal law known as the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act. A public report of the outcome of proceedings is posted here.
On November 20, 2020, CUPD briefed the Tsialas family on the findings of the investigation and answered questions. CUPD provided the briefing with the sincere hope that it would provide some measure of closure to the family for their tragic loss. If other members of the Cornell community are in need of support, the following services are available to all members of the Cornell community. Students may consult with counselors from Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155. Students may speak with a peer counselor by calling EARS at 607-255-3277. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program at 607-255-2673. The Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616. For additional resources, visit caringcommunity.cornell.edu.
The Tompkins County District Attorney’s Office determined that no criminal charges would be filed in connection with this incident.