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August 12, 2017

Report: Man threatens to 'take out' fraternity brothers in Penn State hazing case

18 students appeared in court this week over the death of N.J. native Timothy Piazza

A man reportedly called Penn State University and left a voicemail containing what an attorney says is a death threat toward the fraternity brothers involved in a hazing death case.

The caller threatened to "take out" any of the 18 frat brothers who tries to return to the school in the fall, Penn Live reported.

William Brennan, an attorney representing defendant Joseph Ems, told the site that the man left the voicemail earlier this summer on an administrative number at the university.

Brennan reportedly mentioned the threat in court Friday before cross-examining the state's lone witness, State College police detective David Scicchitano. The proceedings were part of the students' joint preliminary hearing in the death of Timothy Piazza, a Readington Township, New Jersey native who died two days after he fell down a staircase while intoxicated during a Beta Theta Pi hazing ritual in February.

Brennan later told Penn Live that State College police had called all 18 defense attorneys and told them about the threat.

Penn Live reported that police have not been able to identify who made the call, and that the phone numbers used had been disguised.

Eight students and the fraternity are charged with involuntary manslaughter and other charges, while the remaining students face a mix of charges that include reckless endangerment, hazing, evidence tampering and furnishing alcohol to minors.

In June, Penn State announced new safety measures designed to help avoid similar tragedies down the line. Future initiatives also include monitoring fraternity and sorority social events and permanently revoking any Greek chapter that uses alcohol and physical abuse for hazing.