Fresno police search Theta Chi Fraternity house

September 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fresno police are sorting through new evidence as they investigate the death of a Fresno State student who died after an event at an off-campus fraternity house.

Detectives spent several hours serving a search warrant Friday at the Theta Chi Fraternity house near Fresno State.

This action came just one week after police said 18-year-old Philip Dhanens drank too much alcohol inside that house and died at a local hospital.

Police say they collected documents from inside the Theta Chi Fraternity house. They're trying to determine who gave Dhanens the alcohol that killed him.

Fresno crime scene investigators along with more than a dozen officers and detectives searched the entire house Friday night. About 30 fraternity members were inside when officers arrived.

"We're just gathering documents and evidence related to that investigation," Lt. Mark Salazar said.

Since last Friday investigators said they have interviewed more than 40 people who attended a party at the fraternity house.

Detectives said they're getting close to figuring out who is ultimately responsible for Dhanens' death.

"We've identified many of the major players involved in this investigation and we've made a lot of progress," Lt. Salazar said.

Police said the Fresno State freshman recently accepted an invitation to pledge for Theta Chi. He was celebrating with fraternity members the night he was rushed to the hospital. Witnesses told police he drank several bottles of rum.

Since then, Theta Chi has been suspended by Fresno State and its headquarters in Indiana. In fact, the entire Greek community at the university has canceled its plans through the weekend. "They are taking time to, sort of, look at what are the practices of our organization, what are the things we do day in and day out where we might put ourselves in harms way," said Fresno State Greek coordinator Eddie Dominquez.

Police admit the investigation is challenging since they've had to coordinate interviews with dozens of witnesses. They tell Action News many are cooperating while some are not.

Investigators said the fraternity members inside the home Friday were cooperative with them. Detectives still have more than a dozen witnesses to interview in the coming days.


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