UM dormitory residents mourn one of their own Freshman died after eight-story fall out window.

October 29, 1991|By Elisha King | Elisha King,Special to The Evening Sun

Inside the high-rise dormitory where Adam Spillman once lived, red-eyed University of Maryland students sit together in silence.

Just two days ago, they were awakened by the flashing lights of emergency vehicles as rescue workers tried to revive their fellow student, who died after falling eight stories from his dormitory window.

Though police will not issue a cause-of-death statement until the state medical examiner has completed an autopsy, campus public information director Roselyn Hiebert said a note found in Spillman's room indicated a probable suicide.

Last night, the students of Easton Hall didn't want to talk about the loss of Spillman, 18, a freshman and a graduate of Quince Orchard High School in Gaithersburg.

Some clenched wet tissues and stared at the floor, while others angrily warded off conversation about the young man who lived upstairs.

"The grief process is so different with each person," said Tom Duetsch, Easton Hall resident director. "This is a statistic that became a reality for a lot of people, and it has been very tough for some of them to cope."

Resident Life officials have been working since early Sunday morning to help students handle their grief. Therapists from the campus Health Center and Counseling Center began talking with troubled students at 5 a.m. Sunday after the incident occurred at 3 a.m.

Students who knew Spillman, and even those who didn't, have shared their feelings in individual counseling sessions and in group meetings.

In other dormitories across campus, resident assistants have calledmeetings to discuss the death.

"The RAs [resident assistants] told us there was a mandatory floor meeting to talk about what happened," said Jen Fitzgerald, a freshman resident of Elkton Hall. "I think they wanted to clear up the confusion.

"Everyone on campus today was talking about all the rumors, asking, 'Do you know what happened? Have you heard what happened,?' " she said.

Speculation about the death of the tall, sandy-haired young man continues, though Hiebert said an earlier report that Spillman's note attributed suicide to problems with his girlfriend may have been premature.

The police are still investigating to determine when the note was written, to see what connection it has -- if any -- to his death.

Friends of the family, who asked not to be identified, said Spillman may have been upset over his parents' recent separation.

"I don't even care any more why he did it," said Andrea Black, a freshman resident of Easton Hall. "I'm just sad that he's gone."

Spillman's funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday at the Epworth United Methodist Church in Gaithersburg.

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