Body of missing VSU student identified; search continues for other student

Update: Officials have now identified the body that was found on Monday as that of 19-year-old Marvell Edmondson.

Chesterfield Co., Va. – Crews found the body of one of two missing Virginia State University students who disappeared during an initiation ritual in the Appomattox River over the weekend. They have now identified the body found as 19-year-old Marvell Edmondson.

Divers resumed their search for the second body Tuesday morning.

Marvell Edmondson is from Portsmouth and attended Churchland High School, and Jawaun Holmes is from the Peninsula and attended Bruton High School.

A university official said Jauwan Holmes and Marvell Edmondson were reported missing Saturday.

According to WTVR, the incident happened at around 1:30 a.m. when five people fell into the water trying to cross the river. Three were pulled from the water but Holmes and Edmondson are still missing.

Detectives and forensic officers rifled through an Ettrick business Monday afternoon, with sources saying evidence found was linked to the river search for the two Virginia State freshman.

Two survivors of the late-night river plunge told WTVR that Jawaun Holmes and Marvell Edmonson were swept away by a fast current, after being told by fraternity leaders that they could walk across the river.

But those “leaders” are part of a non-sanctioned fraternity.

“It’s not sponsored by the university, after they told us it was,” said VSU student Christian Cavazos. “They had us sign this VSU application thing. it seemed like we were doing it for the school.”

Seven pledges took part in the hazing, according to Cavazos. He says their initiation was supposed to be celebrated at a “Men of Honor” pajama jam Saturday night.

VSU released a statement Monday morning on their website:

Virginia State University regrets to inform our community that two VSU freshmen, Jauwan Holmes and Marvell Edmondson, have been reported missing following an incident at the Appomattox River in Petersburg. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of our students. We ask the VSU community to come together during this time and to offer one another support and strength. 

Chesterfield County is leading the investigation and recovery effort, with assistance from Colonial Heights, the Virginia State Police and the VSU Department of Police and Public Safety. We are unable to provide any additional information at this time, but will give updates as verifiable developments occur. 

We are confident that no sanctioned VSU student organizations were involved in this tragic incident. 

As always, the safety of our students is of paramount concern. Toward this, the administration recognized the emotional nature of Sunday night’s vigil and determined it to be in our students’ best interests that they return to their residences following the vigil and remain there overnight.  

We are offering  individual and group counseling sessions to students beginning Monday, April 22 at 9:00 a.m. in Foster Hall, room 200. 

We ask that anyone with additional information concerning this incident contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at (804) 748-1251, or the VSU Department of Police and Public Safety at (804) 524-5411.

Find the complete story from WTVR/CBS 6, HERE.

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