Leads begin to emerge in assault investigation
Published 1:05 am, Friday, February 19, 2010
Westport Police have conducted more than 50 interviews so far in their investigation of the assault that left a Fairfield University freshman unconscious in a Hillspoint Road driveway early Feb. 7, nearly one hour after an underage drinking party broke up next door, police said.
So far, police have uncovered no information about the assault itself, but two people of interest have emerged: a Fairfield University student and a Manhattanville College student. Both have left the state and retained attorneys, said Lt. Vincent Penna.
"I wouldn't call them suspects at this point, I would say they have information that we need," Penna said. "The main thing that sets them apart is that they're refusing to speak to us. Their involvement in what occurred is a mystery. We're investigating an assault, not the party. And if they're refusing to speak to us, it raises our suspicion that they have information that would be either helpful to us or damning to them."
The assault occurred around midnight. The victim, David Keith, 18, a Fairfield Prep graduate last spring, was found lying unconscious with facial and head trauma in the driveway at 76 Hillspoint Road. The temperature outside was around 20 degrees Fahrenheit at the time. He was discovered by a neighbor who then flagged down a police officer.
By the time the officer pulled over, roughly 40 minutes had passed since the party ended, police said.
Upwards of 100 students were at the party, which took place at 80 Hillspoint Road.
About 80 percent of them were from Fairfield University, Penna said. The police investigation into the assault began with the party's host, Brian Chung, a fellow Fairfield University freshman, whose parents were outside of the country. Police may seek charges for the party, Penna said, but their primary concern is in solving the assault.
After Chung, police interviewed several other students who they knew were at the party, Penna said. The investigation widened as testimonies compounded, but no one has come forth with any information on the assault.
"Basically, anything we've gotten so far has not been fruitful," Penna said. "We're just trying to gather information at this point. We've pinpointed Mr. Keith's whereabouts basically up to the point when everyone exited the party."
Penna described the police's arrival at the party as a chaotic scene. After an alarm accidentally activated, which alerted the police, about 100 people -- the majority of them underage -- rushed outside in search of rides away. Taxis were arriving. People were walking or running in many directions.
Police investigated the party and then circled the neighborhood in search of people straggling in nearby woods or on neighborhood streets. A patrol car passed the house again about 40 minutes later and was flagged down. At some point in that window, the assault occurred.
"That's the period that's kind of a blank for us right now," Penna said. "We basically lose track of [Keith] through witness statements. He was at the party with a group of kids. He was friends with one of the kids who hosted the party."
Of the two people of interest, Penna said: "For the most part, once they've retained attorneys, the attorneys aren't very forthcoming with letting police interview their clients."
Penna said that Keith's condition is improving steadily. Westport police have so far conducted one brief interview with him, Penna said.
"Right now, he's concentrating, as he should, on his recovery," he said.