Father: Schools Hasn't Increased Security Since Death of Son

Another death at South Dakota's Northern State University sparks former victim's father to question school's security


The father of a Northern State University student who was found dead inside a residence hall 18 months ago thinks something needs to be done to make the campus safer.

Tom O'Neill of Rochester, Minn., said increased security measures should have been taken after the death of his 20-year-old son, Tyler. But in light of the death of Northern State professor Morgan N. Lewis, whose body was found outside Seymour Hall Monday, Tom O'Neill said it's clear no effort was made to heighten campus safety.

"They never increased security on campus," O'Neill said. "Now you have two deaths in 18 months. This is supposed to be a small-town American university. Obviously, there's something wrong."

Tyler O'Neill was found dead in the lobby of Jerde Hall on the Aberdeen, S.D.., Northern State campus on May 3, 2003. Former NSU sophomore Paul Neshek of Brooklyn Park, Minn., was originally charged with manslaughter and assault. But the charges were dropped in November 2003 because of what Brown County State's Attorney Mark McNeary called a lack of evidence.

"I know things cost money, but they could have put video cameras at the entrances to buildings," Tom O'Neill said. "Those cameras aren't that expensive. You can even find them on the Internet."

Aberdeen Police Chief Don Lanpher Jr. said he doesn't believe there are any surveillance cameras on campus.

As far as what steps the university has taken since Tyler O'Neill's death, NSU officials are being tight-lipped.

Brenda Dreyer, NSU's director of university relations, said she can't discuss whether there are security cameras on the campus.

"We can't discuss campus security measures that aren't generally known to the public," she said.

Tom O'Neill still maintains authorities mishandled his son's case.

"I would hope they would use more diligence this time around," he said, referring to the investigation into the death of Lewis. "Not only the police department, but the state's attorney's office."

Tom O'Neill said he hopes this latest tragedy is a wake-up call.

"We see these things continue to happen because people didn't learn about it the first time," he said.