MU student death an ‘apparent suicide’

Tuesday, February 28, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 5:04 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

A day after MU freshman Kyle Masterson’s death, which MU police were calling an “apparent suicide,” family and friends were struggling to understand what happened.

MU police Capt. Brian Weimer said Monday the investigation was continuing but that Masterson, 18, of Rolla, died when he fell from the eighth-floor balcony of Laws Hall, an MU residential hall.

MU police Officer Jordan Hargrove responded to a call of a medical emergency at 11:41 a.m. Sunday and found Masterson on the sidewalk on the east side of Laws Hall, Weimer said. He was taken to University Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Weimer said a suicide note was found in Masterson’s room, but he would not disclose the contents of the note. He said there was no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved in the death, or that anyone else was on the balcony when it occurred.

Masterson’s father, Mike, who traveled to MU on Monday with his wife, Kathy, after learning of his son’s death, said he and his wife had seen Kyle at MU just two days earlier.

“We were just up here Saturday, and he was fine,” he said as he stood at the southwest corner of Laws Hall, arms folded and occassionally glancing to the ground.

“Kyle was a 4.0 student. Kyle was making plans for next year,” Kyle’s mother, Kathy, said. “Kyle is not a jumper.”

“I saw him Saturday night,” she said. “He called to check that I made it home. I saw him Saturday, and Sunday he was gone.”

Kathy Masterson said it was a long drive back to Columbia on Monday from her home in Rolla.

“Time moves very slow,” she said.

Friends described Kyle Masterson, a business major, as a smart, agreeable person who liked to make people laugh. “I think that he was one of the happiest people I met in my life,” said MU freshman Laura Johnson, a friend. “He went to my high school, and I think everyone knew him.”

MU senior Chun Qian, another friend, said Kyle was quiet but had a great sense of humor.

“He doesn’t say much, but whenever he did say something, it’s always hilarious,” Qian said.

Qian said he had talked to Kyle a few days ago. “He sounded fine,” he said. “There were no surges of emotion or anything.”

Friends used the Internet to express their feelings, posting messages on a profile Kyle had made onFacebook, a Web site that facilitates social networking for college and high school students.

MU spokesman Christian Basi said university staff members were doing everything they could to help students and Masterson’s family cope with the loss.

A letter was distributed to Laws Hall residents Sunday telling them what had happened and that counseling services are available through the MU Counseling Center.

“Counselors have been called, and students have been made aware that counselors are available,” Basi said. “We are trying to give as much support as possible to Kyle’s family.”

Doors to the Laws Hall balconies were locked Monday and were to be unlocked when police finished their investigation, Basi said.

Missourian reporter Matthew Harris contributed to this report.

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