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Knoxville man dead from apparent suicide
By Jenny Poole
Echo Assistant News Editor
Flowers are scattered around the area
where an 18-year-old Knoxville man ended
his life in a campus parking garage on
Dennis Neel died when he crashed his
1987 Hyundai head-on into the east wall of
the Lupton Library parking garage,
according to police reports.
Chattanooga police are investigating the
circumstances surrounding the death. Neel
was apparently upset over the recent breakup with his girlfriend who attends UTC,
according to campus police reports.
"I believe that they have now determined
that this is a suicide," said Dale McNeely,
director of campus law enforcement, on
Witnesses told police that Neel entered
the lower level of the parking garage around
11:45 a.m. at a high rate of speed. He
accelerated the full length of the building
until his vehicle slammed into the concrete
Earlier that morning, a Chattanooga
officer who was working on campus was
dispatched to a Vine Street apartment in
reference to a suicide threat involving Neel.
According to police reports, when the
officer arrived, Neel's former girlfriend
Officials examine the site of collision.
explained that she had broken up with him
on the previous Saturday. She said Neel had
taken it very hard.
Neel had been repeatedly calling the
female, and she played the messages for the
officer. While the officer was in the
apartment, Neel called again and the officer
spoke to him. Though he would not tell the
officer his location on campus, Neel did say
that he did not have any intention to hurt
However, Neel's mother had called
McNeely saying she was afraid that he
would hurt himself.
At that time, numerous police officers
were dispatched around campus in search
of Neel's car.
"We searched the parking lots for over
an hour and could not find his car
anywhere," McNeely said. "The next thing
we knew, we got a report that someone had
wrecked a car in Lot 11."
UTC police rushed to the scene, but
when officer Kenneth Taylor arrived, Neel
had no pulse, and he was not breathing.
"We notified the City of Chattanooga
Police Department and Fire Department,"
McNeely said. "After the crime scene was
established and witnesses were interviewed,
the body was extracted by the fire-
The situation could have been much
worse, McNeely said.
"Wc arc extremely lucky that the car did
not blow up, or that there were no students
coming down the steps," McNeely said. "I
commend the Chattanooga Fire Department
and police departments for coming as
quickly as they did and for securing the area
as fast as they did. Without them, this could
have been an even worse situation."
"The UTC family holds the family and
friends of this individual in our thoughts,
and we will assist each other in confronting
this tragedy on our campus," said Chancellor
Political science professor suspended with pay
By Jenny Poole and Cara Allison
The University Echo
After almost three years of
postponements, UTC officials have taken
action against a UTC professor who was
accused of sexual harassment by a former
"Professor [Rick] Wilson has been
.uspended with pay from university duties
)ending the resolution of a personnel
natter," a university relations press release
In the spring of 1995, then-UTC
reshman Becky Thompson said that she
vent to Wilson's house at his invitation to
nake up work that she had missed due to
ate registration for his political science
According to Thompson, on a May 1,
1995 visit to Wilson's house, he told her that
he was too tired to give her a test she had
planned to take and
he would just give
her an "A."
that as she left his
hugged her and
kissed her on the
believed he was
going to kiss her on
the lips, so she
quickly left the
testified that later
that evening, Wilson called her and said that
she would have to take the test afterall.
Former Chancellor Fred Obear had
suspended Wilson without pay during the
summer of 1996,
but that decision
was appealed in
March of 1997. A
stay was granted by
the university, and
scheduled to begin
in January of 1998.
No action was
taken and Wilson
was scheduled to
teach classes this
As of Monday,
Wilson was suspended with pay from the
"Wilson was ready to return to school
on Monday, and will be ready as soon as
the university will allow him to return," said
Wilson's attorney, Andrew Berke.
According to Berke, the Nashville court
would not allow Wilson to be suspended
Wilson and his attorney are currently
discussing his options and deciding what the
next step should be, Berke said.
According to Dr. David Carrithers, head
of political science, Wilson's classes are
being taken over by other members of the
Wilson is a tenured professor who has
been with UTC since 1971. He was awarded
by the Student Government Association
with the 1985-86 "Outstanding Professor
Award" and was named a Fulbright
Professor in 1988-89.