COLUMBIA, Mo. — Eight more fraternity brothers have been indicted for a hazing case at Mizzou that left a 19-year-old man in a wheelchair, blind and unable to speak.
A grand jury in Boone County has indicted a total of 10 members of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity after an incident last October that happened at a “Pledge Dad Reveal” inside the fraternity house. Danny Santulli joined the fraternity last fall as a freshman. According to the family’s lawsuit and the indictment documents, Santulli’s pledge dad handed the “‘family bottle’ of Tito’s Vodka, which Danny was expected to consume in its entirety before the event was over.”
Benjamin Parres, Benjamin Karl, Samuel Morrison, Harrison Reichman, Samuel Gandhi, John “Jack” O’Neill, Blake Morsovillo and Samuel Lane, were indicted Friday by a Boone County grand jury. In June, Thomas Shultz and Ryan Delanty were indicted. Earlier this month, the Santulli family’s lawyer David Bianchi said the fraternity member, Harrison Reichman of Kansas City, is responsible for not calling 911 or administering CPR when he saw Santulli was unconscious and not breathing. Instead, according to the lawsuit, he carried him off the couch and dropped him on his head.
Santulli was then selected by other members to drink a beer through a tube. The lawsuit names Alex Wetzler as the brother who made Santulli drink the beer.
Wetzler, who was charged over the summer with supply alcohol to a minor, was set to appear in court Tuesday. His attorney asked to continue the hearing until November because he had not heard back from the Boone County prosecutor.
The lawsuit then went on to say that before midnight, Santulli was sitting on a couch in “extreme distress and with a blood alcohol of .468%.” That’s nearly six times the legal limit in Missouri. Thirty minutes later, around 12:30 a.m., Santulli slid partially off the couch and ended with his face on the floor. He had no control of his arms or legs and stayed there until someone passing through the room put him back on the couch. The lawsuit names Samuel Gandhi as the fraternity brother that left after putting Santulli back on the couch.
The amended lawsuit filed earlier this month named Reichman again, as the man who carried Santulli off the couch and dropped him while taking him to another fraternity member’s car.
The lawsuit states Santulli’s “skin was pale and his lips were blue, yet no one called 911.” Instead, the decision was made to drive Santulli to University Hospital in Columbia in one of the brother’s cars. The lawsuit says “when they arrived, hospital staff went to the car only to find that Danny was not breathing and in cardiac arrest. CPR was performed and Danny’s heart was restarted.”
Santulli was then rushed to the intensive care unit (ICU) and put on a ventilator. Days later, he was removed from the ventilator and able to breathe on his own, but he was still unresponsive. He was unaware of his surroundings, unable to communicate, and had a significant injury to his brain.
Santulli, now unable to walk, talk, is blind and unable to care for himself. He lives in Minnesota with his parents, but his older sister just started her senior year at Mizzou.
“I feel sad for his sister that she has to walk around with those other boys still on campus without being punished,” said Izabella Chilambo, a Mizzou sophomore. “I just hope it doesn’t happen again.”
The family’s lawyer, Bianchi, said he’s been told seven fraternity members have been expelled from Mizzou, but the University of Missouri only says that 13 have been disciplined.
“I think it’s wrong. I think they should have been punished for what they did because this shouldn’t have been taken lightly,” Chilambo said. “I feel like it encourages others to do the same, that they won’t get a punishment.”
Chilambo was a freshman when the incident happened and remembers seeing it all over social media the next day.
“It’s almost embarrassing to know that reaching out to employers later on, this could be something they think and know, this is just a party school or that this is not a respectable institution,” Chilambo said. “I think Greek life needs to be looked at a littler closer. I think they need to have more restrictions.”
Bianchi said Santulli’s medical bills exceed over $2 million. Days before the incident, the lawsuit said Santulli’s sister went to the fraternity house to see Santulli, and “for the first time in his life, he broke down and cried to her.”
Santulli told his sister he was exhausted and that he could not take being in the fraternity anymore. The suit said that his sister “realized that he was suffering from overwhelming depression and fatigue.” After she and her parents tried telling Santulli to walk away from Phi Gamma Delta, Santulli said he wasn’t a quitter and “did not want to be humiliated and ridiculed by those who rank he was trying to join.”
The lawsuit also mentioned what Santulli had to do for the older fraternity brothers before pledge night.
“He was sleep-deprived, was having to buy things for the fraternity brothers with his own money, and was repeatedly ordered to clean the brothers’ rooms and bring food, alcohol, and marijuana to them at all hours of the night,” the suit alleges.
During his pledging process, the suit claims Santulli had been ordered to climb into a trash can that had broken glass in it, which resulted in a bad cut on his foot, and he had to go to the hospital to get stitches and crutches.
This isn’t the first time Phi Gamma Delta had been in trouble at Mizzou. The fraternity has a track record of alcohol-related violations in 2017, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Less than two months before the hazing incident, Phi Gamma Delta was in violation of university policies and alcohol distribution. The school sanctioned the fraternity to the alcohol education program and the alcohol event probation.
Over the summer, the Santulli’s settled with 25 defendants in a civil case, including fraternity brothers and the national Phi Gamma Delta Organization.
The eight brothers that were indicted Friday were charged with a Class D felony of hazing and are set to be back in court in October for their arraignment hearings. Shortly after the October event, Mizzou stopped recognizing the fraternity as a student organization and the national organization closed the chapter and told the university no one associated with the fraternity was living in the house.