Coroner identifies dead ISU students

March 23, 2012 3:14:48 PM PDT
Two suburban Chicago students were found dead in their separate dorm rooms on the campus of Illinois State University. No foul play is suspected.

School officials say the deaths appear unrelated and do not appear to involve criminal activity.

The death of Allison C. Zak of Schaumburg was reported at 9:30 p.m. Thursday in Manchester Hall on the Normal, Ill., campus. She was found by her roommate, officials said, in the eighth floor room.

"Just horrible. I can only imagine how the parents are feeling," neighbor Kalpma Prakash neighbor said. "Everyone has big dreams for their children and high hopes and this is something you never want to have happen."

Zak, a sophomore at ISU, attended Conant High School.

"Very dedicated student, not only academically but with the band program. She was in band all four years, just was an invested member of it and had marching band where we had everybody together. It was a community and social connect that the students had and to hear that someone this young, you know, loses their life, it just blows my mind," Kreg Moorhouse, Conant High School band director said.

The second death was reported after 12 a.m. Friday in Hewett Hall. Officials identified that student as freshman John C. Stephens of Wilmette who attended New Trier High School. School officials said out of respect for his family, they declined to comment about his death.

Autopsies were performed on both bodies Friday: Zak's death may be related to an undiagnosed seizure disorder, according to the McLean County coroner. Officials say toxicology tests are needed in Stephen's death.

University President Al Bowman posted a message on the ISU website:

It is with deep sadness that I must alert you to two tragic incidents that occurred on Illinois State's campus during the evening and overnight hours.

Two students were found deceased in their residence hall rooms; one person at about 9:30 p.m. in Manchester Hall, and the other person, shortly after midnight in Hewett Hall.

Illinois State University Police and the McLean County Coroner's office are investigating both cases, but I want to assure you that the incidents are unrelated, and that there is no foul play or criminal activity of any kind involved in either incident. Your safety is the University's highest priority, and I wanted you to know that the campus community remains secure.

Bowman also offered for students to contact the Student Counseling Services.