USC student is found dead; fraternity suspended

Columbia and University of South Carolina police gather in front of the house on Lee Street where a student was found dead on Wednesday.
Columbia and University of South Carolina police gather in front of the house on Lee Street where a student was found dead on Wednesday. hcahill@thestate.com

The 18-year-old University of South Carolina freshman who was found dead at an off-campus residence commonly used by fraternity members was remembered as a polite and respectable kid and an astounding athlete.

Charlie Terreni Jr., the son of well-known Columbia lawyer Charlie Terreni Sr., was found dead Wednesday at a home at 2319 Lee St.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts released his identity Thursday and said a morning autopsy revealed no signs of traumatic injury. Final results and a cause of death will depend on toxicology test results, Watts said.

Steedley Bogan, a colleague of the elder Terreni, said Thursday that Charlie Terreni Jr. was a freshman at USC and was pledging the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

At 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Columbia police and the Richland County Coroner’s Office received a call that an 18-year-old male USC student had been found dead inside a home not far from USC’s campus.

The Pi Kappa Alpha International Fraternity issued a statement saying the USC chapter of the fraternity has been put on administrative suspension and the chapter has ceased operations.

“The fraternity’s thoughts and prayers are with the family of this young man and the brothers of Xi Chapter,” Justin True, a Pi Kappa spokesman, said in the statement.

Neighbors said there was a party at the Lee Street house Tuesday – as there often was – but that it wasn’t particularly loud or noisy that night. A keg of beer on Tuesday sat on the front porch. Another was inside the front room.

Thursday morning, Rep. Kirkman Finlay III asked for a moment of silence on the House floor for Terreni.

“We are so terribly sorry for their loss,” Finlay said later Thursday. “What a wonderful young man with such a bright future. Not only is this a loss for the family but the community and the state as well. As a parent of three children, my heart goes out to (the Terreni family). We know he is in a better place.”

Terreni, who would have turned 19 on March 31, graduated in June 2014 from Cardinal Newman Catholic School, where he was captain of the soccer team his senior year.

“Everybody knew and loved Charlie,” Will Eudy, Cardinal Newman’s soccer coach, said in a statement. “He represented Cardinal Newman well, as both a student and as an athlete. He will be missed.”

In a statement posted to the university’s website Thursday, USC President Harris Pastides asked students to support one another and the Terreni family.

“I offer my personal condolences and prayers for the families who are grieving,” Pastides said in the statement. “May our compassion relieve a small part of their burden.”