In 2015, the murder of Karlie Hall left many feeling as though they were in the middle of a nightmare from which they would never awaken.
Millersville University, a school long known for the sense of welcoming and family that it emits, felt the grief at its core as the students banded together, promising to never allow something of this scale to happen again.
Karlie’s friends felt the grief as a radiant light had been taken from their lives; a lively, caring woman would no longer be in their lives in a physical sense, only in their thoughts and dreams.
And, of course, her family felt the grief as they had lost a daughter, a sister, a cousin and a friend; a void that could not ever be replaced.
The nightmare will seemingly never end.
Many believe that Karlie’s death was preventable, the most notable of which include her parents.
Recently, a lawsuit has been filed against several students in the Millersville chapter of Acacia Fraternity, including Colin Herbine, Jack Milito, Nicholas Hench, Sean Ebert, Nigale Quiles and five unnamed members of Acacia.
Sara Wiberg, the resident assistant in Bard Hall at the time of Karlie’s death, is also among those facing a lawsuit.
The suit states that Karlie was not granted the protection of the 14th Amendment, which is the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; because of this, Hall’s family is seeking $50,000 for each of the six counts issued against the school and fraternity members.
Jeanette and John Hall are represented by Brian Kent of Philadelphia firm Laffey, Bucci & Kent.
Precedence: Why the suit is being filed
In October 2014, Karlie and her then-boyfriend, Gregorio Orrostieta, got into a fight that resulted in a physical altercation. Wiberg was the resident assistant at the time, and promptly told Orrostieta to leave the premises. He refused, and the Millersville police department was called.
The suit states that since the Millersville police department has the full power of a police department, a full investigation of the abuse should have been conducted; instead, the suit says it is believed that the police did not speak to Karlie about the domestic violence, and did not end up investigating any further.
Another incident was believed to have happened between Karlie and Orrostieta in January of 2015, but a report was never filed and police were never called, the suit states. This altercation resulted in Karlie with a fractured orbital bone. Because of this, Karlie had to miss a week of classes.
Karlie’s mother and the plaintiff of the suit, Jeanette Hall, had reportedly called Millersville, inquiring about the incident. The police department does keep assault records on file, though there were none regarding Karlie in their records, according to the suit.
“The failure to investigate and report viable evidence of assault on the behalf of [the] defendant by and through the failures of the Millersville University Police and Bard Hall resident assistant resulted in Gregorio Orrostieta’s ability to freely enter decedent Karlie Hall’s residential dormitory without interruption or investigation multiple days in February of 2015…” the suit states.
Furthermore, Orrostieta and Karlie were reportedly invited to a party at the Acacia Fraternity, where the suit states, “Orrostieta grabbed decedent Hall, physically assaulted her, shoved her, and pinned her against a wall.”
It is believed that members of the Acacia Fraternity witnessed the assault but did not call the police or aid Karlie in any way. It is then believed that the members of the Fraternity allowed Karlie and Orrostieta to leave together.
On February 8, 2015, Tanyia Kelsey, a student residing in Bard Hall, had heard furniture being moved and screams of “Help!” multiple times, coming from Hall’s room. Kelsey notified Wiberg, the resident assistant who had known of previous altercations between Orrostieta and Karlie.
Wiberg knocked on the door, but left when there was no response; she did not call the police.
“As a direct result of the deliberate indifference of defendants named herein, Karlie Hall was subjected to horrific abuse and torture which ultimately resulted in her death,” the suit states.
Orrostieta received 20-40 years of jail for his involvement in the murder of Karlie.
The future and Karlie’s legacy
In honor of Karlie’s life, Millersville students set up a fundraiser called “Karlie’s Angels,” which provides resources, as well as educates and helps those impacted by domestic violence. Peer educators are hired by the university to speak about the signs and what to do in situations of dating violence.
February has become a symbolic month for the campus. It’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness month; to observe this month and the death of Karlie, Millersville adorns the campus in hundreds of red flags, as part of the “Red Flag Campaign.”
The Center for Health Education and Promotion (CHEP) hosts a number of services in the Montour House. Free-of-charge domestic violence services are held on Tuesdays from 1-4 p.m. and the YWCA is on campus Mondays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m..
Several fraternities have done presentations reiterating the importance of reporting dating violence, whether one is a person involved with it, or knows someone who is involved. The promotion of the “It’s On Us” campaign, as well as the “Love Doesn’t Hurt” campaign are ever-prevalent.
While it’s impossible to change what happened two years ago, the campus has taken dating violence awareness to new levels; in the wake of Karlie’s death, more can be done.
And remember, if you see something, say something.