The family of a Queens teenager who they say committed suicide two weeks ago in Uniondale over hazing rituals at his Pennsylvania university fraternity hopes his story serves as a wake-up call.
Marquise Braham, an 18-year-old freshman at Penn State Altoona, had jumped to his death from the roof of the Long Island Marriot the night of Friday, March 14. His family, who are holding services on LI for the Rosedale teen starting Thursday, suspects that his suicide stemmed from pledging with Phi Sigma Kappa.
“It’s what happened in Altoona that sent him off the roof of the Marriott in New York,” the teen’s father, Rich Braham, told Altoona Mirror, the local newspaper covering the western Keystone State college town. “It’s clear he didn’t want to go back there.”
The family has given the teen’s cell phone and laptop computer to Nassau County police, who are turning the evidence over to Logan township police, authorities said. The university and national chapter of the fraternity have both reportedly suspended the local chapter, meaning it can’t take on new pledges pending completion of the probes.
“We’re hearing rumors, but at this point that’s what they are to us until we can prove them,” Ron Heller, chief of Logan township police, told the Press. “We’re looking at a whole gambit of things.”
Heller said that aside from possible violations of Pennsylvania anti-hazing law, if there’s evidence that Braham killed himself out of duress from his alleged involvement in hazing, then charges could be filed under the state’s assisted suicide law, too. He noted that his investigators have interviewed two people so far, but the teen’s frat brothers have hired attorneys.
Braham, who had graduated from Kellenberg Memorial High School—a block from the hotel where he took his life—was home on spring break at the time of his death.
Mike Paul, the family spokesman, said that Braham had become part of the Altoona frat’s leadership as the chapter’s secretary while in his second semester, which he noted is rare.
“The Braham family has two goals: to find out and share the whole truth…as to what caused their son to take his own life, and to allow fellow parents and students at Penn State and nationwide to learn the truth about what is happening within fraternities,” said Paul, who also had a message for the teen’s frat-mates.
“If you can go to sleep at night and say, ‘the fraternity and hazing had absolutely nothing to do with this,’ you go ahead and do that,” Paul said. “But if you’re up at night…it will eat you up the rest of your life. This is not a short-term thing….tell the truth to law enforcement, the truth will set you free.”
Wake services for Braham are scheduled for 2-5 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday at Park Funeral Chapel, 2175 Jericho Tpke. in Garden City Park. His funeral is slated for 10 a.m. Saturday at Our Lady of the Snows, 258-15 80th Ave. in Floral Park.
The family requests donations be made in his memory to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention here.