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WITNESSES: Students disappeared during initiation ritual

ETTRICK, Va. (WTVR) – Two missing Virginia State University students disappeared in the Appomattox River during an initiation ritual, according to other students who said they were involved. Jauwan Holmes and Marvell Edmondson, both from Hampton Roads, were reported missing Saturday. The search for the missing students continues at this hour.

Michael Aiken and Christian Cavazos said they were two of seven students who participated in the ritual to join a club the students called “Men of Honor.” On Saturday, the students said part of the ritual was to swim the Appomattox River.

The men said the group’s leaders assured them there was land all the way across the route.

“But when we went in, we got in about five feet or six feet and we just dropped into the water,” Cavazos said.

“All I did was just stay afloat,” Aiken added.

University officials told CBS 6 they do not sponsor or sanction the group.

“We want to make it perfectly, abundantly, absolutely clear that there are no sanctioned VSU organizations involved in this incident,” university spokesman Thomas Reed said.

Emotions ran high during a Sunday night vigil held for Holmes and Edmondson. The university ordered a campus-wide curfew Sunday night. That curfew was lifted early Monday morning.

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“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,” the university posted on its website.

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