The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

SMU professor Susanne Scholz in the West Bank in 2018.
SMU professor to return to campus after being trapped in Gaza for 12 years
Sara Hummadi, Video Editor • May 18, 2024

Questions remain concerning reports

Confusion ensued among media outlets Monday morning when SMU Police officials listed Hunter Green’s death as a ‘homicide’ on the department’s Web site.

Following numerous calls to SMU’s public affairs office, the listing was changed from ‘homicide’ to ‘unexplained death’ around 11 a.m. Monday.

Readers of The Daily Campus and other news outlets have asked all week why Green’s case was initially listed as a homicide, especially when the SMU PD has refused to comment further on the case.

The 911 call for Green obtained from the University Park Police Department Wednesday said students who found him last Friday afternoon suspected he had committed suicide following a “suspicious” email sent to several students that morning.

On Tuesday, the DC reported that SMU officials were simply following FBI protocol by listing Green’s death as a homicide.

However, calls Wednesday to the Dallas FBI field office and the Dallas County medical examiner suggest that the ‘homicide’ designation was arbitrary on SMU’s part and may have caused undue concern at such a sensitive time.

Special Agent Mark White, a media spokesperson for the FBI in Dallas, confirmed there are indeed standards for reporting crimes that are set forth in the Uniform Crime Reporting handbook issued by the bureau. These crimes are compiled in a set of statistics that must be published annually under “The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.”

However, White said law enforcement agencies and the medical examiner work together to make the final determination on the cause of death in any case, which may take some time. There is not a mandated term agencies must tentatively use to describe a death prior to an official ruling, he said.

Krista George, an investigator with the Dallas County medical examiner, said her office has not ruled Green’s case a homicide, but rather that the official manner and cause of death is pending toxicology results.

Until the medical examiner rules on the case, George said, SMU can list the case however they want.

“They can do whatever they want to do,” George said.

She said each police department has its own set of standard operating procedures that determine how cases are listed and investigated.

“One department can say, ‘we automatically investigate them as a homicide until we know differently,’ or they can say they automatically investigate them as an unexplained death,” George said.

SMU spokesperson Kent Best refused to go on the record with the DC about the ‘homicide’ designation.

A formal declaration from the medical examiner’s office will come in eight to 10 weeks once toxicology results are received.

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