Brockport suffers loss of student
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 09:10
A “bright, beautiful young woman who was thrilled to be beginning her college education,” as described by her family, was murdered Saturday morning in her dorm room.
Alexandra Kogut, 18, was found dead in her first floor McLean Hall room at 2:45 a.m. Saturday by University Police officers, according to UP Chief Robert Kehoe.
Kehoe said in a press conference regarding the arrest Saturday she was “brutally murdered” and suffered “extensive trauma to the upper body.”
According to an email from John Helfer, spokesman for Monroe County Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn, the Monroe County Examiner’s office found the cause of death to be blunt force trauma.
Clayton Whittemore, 21, was arrested and charged with second-degree murder in the case. Whittemore and Kogut had a “dating relationship,” according to Kehoe. They were in a relationship on Facebook, made official Aug. 20.
Whittemore was found at 4 a.m. at a thruway service stop in Dewitt, approximately 110 miles west of Brockport.
Kogut, a freshman at Brockport, was recruited by the athletic department as a swimmer. Monday would have been her first day at practice.
Both Kogut and Whittemore are from New Hartford, N.Y., near Utica. Whittemore is not a Brockport student, but rather was visiting Kogut for the weekend. According to Utica College, he is a sophomore there.
He assisted New Hartford High School to back-to-back state hockey championships in 2009 and 2010.
In January 2011 he was charged with disorderly conduct and public intoxication in Brevard County, Fla.
Whittemore was arraigned at Sweden Town Court Saturday afternoon and pled not guilty to the charges. He’s being held without bail with a preliminary hearing set for Thursday, Oct. 4 at 1 p.m.
According to Kehoe, Kogut’s mother called UP for a welfare check because she hadn’t heard from her daughter and was worried. Kehoe said the mother could not reach her daughter by cell phone.
It took less than 10 minutes from the time of the call to the time UP found her dead in her dorm. Police say she died between 1 and 2:30 a.m.
College officials were called and arrived at the scene. Dave Mihalyov, chief communication officer for the college, and President John R. Halstead and his wife were there.
The sidewalk on the west side of McLean, nearest McFarlane Hall, was blocked off with caution tape. All shades were drawn in McLean’s three lounges, and stayed that way until Monday. Both official and unofficial police vehicles were parked along the sidewalk leading from Commencement Drive to the residence hall Saturday morning.
Mihalyov said counselors were made immediately available to the hall’s residents. He said they were not woken up immediately. Counselors went floor to floor talking to students.
He said students were not being kept at the residence hall and were free to go. Many could be seen leaving Saturday morning with parents, as well as some with full backpacks and purses.
Kogut’s name was not officially released until 8:45 p.m. Sunday. Media outlets, including The Stylus, held off releasing her name until it was confirmed by the Medical Examiner in order to respect the privacy of friends and family.
The Kogut family released a statement hours before the sheriff released the identity, and multiple TV stations confirmed her identity with family members at the same time.
Social media sites were busy all weekend with tweets and statuses about Kogut. Members of the swim team hung signs in her honor off of houses. Over the weekend, students gathered informally in remembrance of her life.
Kogut and Whittemore’s relationship was documented on their Facebook and Twitter pages. Kogut’s Twitter account was full of Instagram pictures of the two. They also talked back and forth about seeing each other.
Kogut’s last tweet was around midnight Friday and read “should’ve known.”
Once the name was formally released by media outlets, the sheriff and the college, different purple cover photos with words such as “R.I.P Alex” started making their way through Facebook. Purple is the official color for anti-domestic violence.