By Emma Way
After a six-day search, sophomore Jacob Marberger was found dead near Hamburg, Pa. on Nov. 21.
WC News wrote in an email to the WC community, “It is with great sorrow that we must inform you this evening of the passing of sophomore Jacob Marberger. We extend our deepest sympathies to the Marberger family in their time of unimaginable grief.”
The email continued, “This is a terrible blow to our community, and the outpouring of compassion and support we have shown each other will help us through this difficult time.”
The College initially went into lockdown on Monday, Nov. 16 when Marberger’s parents alerted the school that he had retrieved a firearm from his home in Pennsylvania and went missing.
After a day of lockdown, the College had planned to open as usual on Tuesday but after a warrant for Marberger’s arrest was released, WC swiftly canceled classes and evacuated campus. The warrant for his arrest listed four misdemeanor chargers from an incident in October when Marberger was allegedly in possession of an unloaded, antique firearm on WC’s campus. This incident resulted in a two-week suspension. The College did not make students aware of these events until the charges were announced on Nov. 17.
On Wednesday, Nov. 18 President Sheila Bair announced that the College would remain closed until after Thanksgiving break. “Based on our continuing consultations with law enforcement, we anticipate that classes will resume on Monday, Nov. 30,” she said in a campus-wide email.
Despite the lock-down and eventual evacuation, the College maintained that, “We have not had any direct threats against campus or any members of our community, but in the interest in caution we feel closing campus until the situation changes is the best course of action.”
Prior to the initial incident in October, Marberger was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. Marberger was also involved with the Student Government Association and a member of its executive board, as the speaker of the senate. He later resigned late Sunday night, Nov. 15. SGA President and junior Taylor Frey was unable to comment on the situation but did note that, “My first priority is and always has been the safety of our campus and our students.”
Richie Torres, a sophomore and friend of Marberger, was left shocked after hearing the news on Nov. 16. Torres and Marberger lived in Kent House together last year and became good friends, but according to Torres he hadn’t heard from Marberger in a while. “Everyone goes through their own battles and their own struggles. That’s why it’s always important to stay kind because you never know what someone is going through,” Torres said.
Kindness has been seen throughout the campus and its surrounding community in many ways. After the announcement of an evacuation, community members, professors, and local organizations alike opened their doors for students that needed some place to stay. Christ United Methodist Church in downtown Chestertown was just one of many offering shelter for those who needed it.
Professors like Dr. Ryan Kelty, associate professor of sociology, offered his home in an email to sociology majors, according to Ceara Scanlon. “I think that speaks volumes to how tight-knit our community is,” she said. WC’s Writer-in-Residence Roy Kesey lightened the mood in a video discussion of his class’s assigned text with a welcomed splash of humor.
According to what seemed like hundreds of Facebook posts, Public Safety, local law enforcement, and the many College officials involved was the glue that held the campus together and kept everyone safe. “They [PS] were at my door in five minutes to escort me Monday night when they were swamped with calls,” said Scanlon. “I’m sure they’re exhausted, I know I was as an RA…but I know they had even more students coming to them and they were happy and willing to talk to them.”
With the sad news of Marberger’s passing, the College community is focused on supporting one another and remembering the good times had with their fellow Shoreman. Judging by the enormous flood of social media posts, it is evident he touched a lot of lives.