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Update - University Statement on the Death of a Student

October 18, 2007   

To the Rider University Community,   

We write to update you on what we have learned about the tragic death of Justin Warfield, a first year student at our Westminster Choir College in Princeton who passed away yesterday.    The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office has brought charges relating to Justin’s death which it alleges was caused by heroin use. It does not appear that alcohol was a factor in his death.

  A Westminster sophomore has been arrested and charged with strict liability for the drug-induced death.  Authorities believe he purchased the heroin and was involved in its use.  As such, he has been placed on interim suspension by the University.  Three additional Westminster students were issued summonses in connection with their involvement in this unfortunate event. 

For the full Prosecutor’s Office report, visit the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office Website.     Substance abuse on college campuses—whether by alcohol or illegal drugs—is a national crisis, as we know all too well at Rider. Every day, we and hundreds of other institutions like us face the growing challenge of promoting personal responsibility among our students while also striving to make our campuses as safe and healthy as possible. 

Justin Warfield’s tragic passing reminds us of the importance of providing our students with the education and support they need to make responsible and healthy decisions.     We will continue to provide updates to all members of the Rider community on this tragic incident as additional information becomes available.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Justin’s family at this difficult time.


Mordechai Rozanski

Robert Annis
Dean, Westminster Choir College