CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – The search resumed Tuesday morning for Virginia State University student Jauwan M. Holmes. Holmes disappeared in the Appomattox River on Saturday, according to Chesterfield Police. Crews recovered the body of 19-year-old Marvell Edmondson on Monday.
Chesterfield Fire and EMS spokesman Lt. Jason Elmore said sonar technology helped dive crews locate Edmondson’s body just after 4 p.m. Monday. It was recovered around 300 to 400 yards from the shore.
Holmes and Edmondson, both from Hampton Roads, were reported missing Saturday.
“We extend our thoughts and prayers to the families involved and also express appreciation to the emergency professionals who are so tirelessly conducting this search,” Tom Reed, VSU’s Director of University Relations, said in a statement.
Witnesses told CBS 6 the students disappeared in the river during an “initiation ritual.” Students 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. University officials said they do not sponsor or sanction the group.
During the four day search, many in the community wondered if criminal charges would be filed. CBS 6 legal expert Todd Stone said the leaders of the hazing ceremony could face misdemeanor charges under Virginia’s hazing statute.
“It’s hard for people to understand how can a life lost only amount to a misdemeanor,” said Stone. “The Virginia statue only allows for misdemeanors.”
Stone added that if the leaders of the group displayed “some type of assaultive-type behvior” against the pledges, they could face separate, more severe charges. However, further evidence surrounding the incident would have to come out for that to happen, Stone said.