Coroner identifies 18-year-old USC student found dead on Lee Street

Published: Mar. 18, 2015 at 7:51 PM EDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2015 at 4:32 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Richland County Coroner Gary Watts has identified the 18-year-old University of South Carolina student who was found dead in a house on Lee Street Wednesday morning.

Watts identified the teen as Charles Terreni, Jr. of Columbia. Terreni was a freshman at the University.

He was found dead inside the Lee Street home around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Watts said there are no signs of traumatic injury, but it's going to take a while to determine his exact cause of death due to pending toxicology results. 

The circumstances surrounding Terreni's death have still not been revealed.

The fraternity released a statement, saying it was notified of a member's death. As a result, the fraternity placed the USC chapter on "administrative suspension." 

"The Fraternity's thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young man and the brothers of the Xi Chapter," the release said.

"There are a lot of rumors out there about the circumstances surrounding the death but at this point the matter remains under investigation," University of South Carolina spokesman Wes Hickman said. "While we await further information we are focused on helping our community grieve and heal."

"During the days and weeks ahead, I would like to ask each of you to make an extra effort to reach out to one another. Please lend a listening ear and a generous heart to those who are experiencing sorrow and grief," said a statement released Thursday by University President Harris Pastides to students, faculty and staff. "I offer my personal condolences and prayers for the families who are grieving. May our compassion relieve a small part of their burden."

Neighbors said the home is a well-known fraternity house and a large party was thrown there the night before.

Terreni was the son of Columbia attorney Charles Terreni, a former staff member for then-Lieutenant Governor Bob Peeler, a former state Public Service Commissioner and a man involved in legislative redistricting.

One of his father's colleagues in the legal community says regardless of the circumstances that caused Charlie's death, his family has lost a "beautiful child" and that should be the focus for now.

"I feel for his parents," said neighbor Mehrdad Vejdani. "I cannot imagine. I cannot imagine. I mean, it's just it's very tragic. He's somebody's son, obviously, and with hopes and dreams of going to the university. I would say there are three houses there, and I don't know who exactly lives in them, but there's always a frequency of parties going on. At times, there can be a hundred people in that place. Live band in the backyard, which is fine. I mean, some noise, but it doesn't bother us too much."

Meanwhile, neighbors aren't jumping to conclusions.

"Speculation can lead to a lot of different things," said William Ford. "You don't know the outcome. You start saying things and you could ruin someone's name by not knowing the full story and saying stuff."Hickman also says acting in accordance with the national Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, the university has also suspended the Xi chapter pending the outcome of a review of their activities and the findings of the Columbia Police Department.

"The Xi Chapter wants to extend their deepest sympathies and condolences to the family of Charlie Terreni, Jr. The members are devastated by the loss of their friend Charlie, and they would ask that everyone keep Charlie's family in their thoughts and prayers.? The members of the Xi Chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha are cooperating with the ongoing investigation by the Columbia Police Department. Once the investigation by the City of Columbia has concluded, the Xi Chapter will address the temporary suspension issues. However, at this time, their focus is on grieving for Charlie," said a Xi Chapter representative Friday night.

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