You are on page 1of 2


Dear Parents:

One year ago today, on February 2, 2017, our son Tim was excited and anxious to begin his initiation into the
Beta Theta Pi Fraternity at Penn State University. Of the three fraternity bids he received, he accepted Beta
Theta Pi. They were self-described as an alcohol-free, hazing-free fraternity and allegedly placed a high
emphasis on academics. He felt like they shared his values. Two days later, on February 4, 2017, we watched
as our son was taken off life support at Hershey Medical Center as a result of the injuries he sustained in
connection with the egregious hazing he experienced on that night of initiation and the self-preservation on
the part of numerous fraternity members. The cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries, including a
fractured skull, lacerated spleen and a severe brain bleed. He just wanted to join an organization. How could
this happen?

The nation, and much of the world, one year later knows that Timothy J. Piazza, our amazing, caring, good
hearted 19-year-old son – the strapping red head from western New Jersey known for his love of life and desire
to help those in need - was the victim of violent, organized fraternity hazing and brutal neglect. That’s not on
his death certificate, but that’s what we get to live with every day.

Tim’s death was a slow, painful passing that was graphically captured on videotape by the fraternity’s
unmonitored security system. To this day we have not watched the videotapes when they have been played in
the preliminary hearing court proceedings, but we have urged Penn State officials, including the President and
his Board of Trustees, to do so (that has yet to happen). Eventually, it is our hope that a jury will have the
opportunity to watch the videos (including the recovered basement video) and hear all of the evidence in the
criminal case brought by prosecutors after an extensive Centre County Grand Jury investigation. Despite our
never-ending sorrow and pain, we have faith in the justice system and hope for the day when all those
responsible for Tim’s death will be held accountable.

We also continue to hope and pray that once and for all – working with other advocate-parents - we can help
bring an end to senseless, preventable hazing deaths in America. Tragically, Tim’s death was the first hazing
fatality in 2017, but by no means was it the last. We now belong to a national club no parent should ever aspire
to join. On February 23 and 24 we, along with other parents who have lost children to hazing, will come
together for our inaugural conference in Greenville, South Carolina.

The media and other parents repeatedly ask us what to tell their children that are thinking of joining a fraternity
or a sorority. First, we urge them to have the conversation. We discussed pledging with Tim and he assured us
that if he joined a fraternity, he would pick the right one. Tim and the other pledges were deceived and a darker
side of that fraternity was revealed, as forced alcohol-fueled hazing intensified in the ‘dry’ house run by ‘Men
of Principle’.

Never would Tim think his soon to be “brothers” would abuse him and then leave him to die. It is important
to talk openly about what has transpired this past year, and over many years, and to remind your children that
they are important to you. Tell them to take nothing at face value, be cautious, guard against peer pressure.
And should they decide to pledge, pledge as a group. Make sure somebody your son or daughter trusts always
has their back. If at any time they are concerned for their safety or the safety of others, they need to follow
their instincts and leave before it’s too late and call for help.

It is too late for Tim, but it is not too late for your son or daughter.
Jim & Evelyn Piazza
February 2, 2018

James and Evelyn Piazza are the parents of Timothy J. Piazza. They authorize the publication of this Open
Letter to Parents. Additional information on the Tim Piazza Memorial Foundation can be found

The Timothy J. Piazza Memorial Foundation | Oldwick, NJ

The Timothy J. Piazza Memorial Foundation, Inc. is a nonprofit created in memory of Tim Piazza.