Teammate Confesses to Killing, Police Say

Times Staff Writer

A former Baylor University basketball player admitted to FBI agents that he shot his missing roommate and teammate, 21-year-old Patrick James Dennehy II, according to police documents.

A judge in Maryland on Tuesday ordered Carlton Dotson jailed without bail. Meanwhile, forensics experts and investigators in Waco, Texas -- home to the world's largest Baptist college -- searched a reservoir and gravel pit for Dennehy's body. But Police Sgt. Ryan Holt said Tuesday evening that it had not yet been found.

Dotson, 21, was arrested Monday night near his hometown of Hurlock, Md., and has been charged with murder "with intent to harm," officials said.

His arrest brought an abrupt end to an investigation that some in Waco feared had been unraveling over the past month. Baylor men's basketball Coach Dave Bliss said in a prepared statement that the university community is "obviously shaken by the events that have occurred."

"We keep hoping this isn't true," he said. "It seems unreal, especially that a 21-year-old who always wore that big smile and couldn't wait for the season to begin might be gone."

Dotson -- whom Waco police had labeled a "person of interest" in the case after an informant told authorities that Dotson may have shot Dennehy -- called 911 from a Maryland grocery store Sunday and asked for help. After being taken to the Chester River Hospital Center for observation overnight, he asked to speak with an FBI agent.

The FBI was involved only peripherally in the case, but officials said Dotson wanted to talk to federal authorities because he felt more secure with them.

According to an arrest warrant filed by the Waco Police Department, while speaking to the FBI, Dotson "confessed to shooting Patrick Dennehy."

Despite arguments by Dotson's attorneys that he should be released on $75,000 bond, Maryland District Judge Floyd Parks ordered him held in the Kent County Detention Center.

Dotson -- wearing an orange jailhouse jumpsuit and shackles -- did not speak during the brief hearing, other than to say, "No, sir," when Parks asked if he had a criminal record. Dotson's attorneys indicated that they will fight, at least for now, efforts to extradite him to Texas. A hearing on that matter is expected in the next 30 days.

Authorities declined to discuss Dotson's statement to the FBI in detail. But Holt said that he had "provided extensive information about the episode."

Dotson appears to have told FBI agents, who could not be reached for comment, where a body might be found.

Dennehy, who grew up in Northern California and had transferred to Baylor from the University of New Mexico, has been missing since mid-June.

According to a police affidavit released shortly after his disappearance, an informant told police that Dotson and Dennehy had gone to a rural area outside Waco to shoot guns together. The affidavit said that Dennehy, who had been stripped of his scholarship at the University of New Mexico because of an incident in which he lost his temper, had pointed his gun at Dotson that afternoon "as if to shoot him." Dotson shot his roommate in the head with a 9-millimeter pistol, the informant told police.

Officials said that before he disappeared, Dennehy had complained to friends and associates that he felt threatened, that he had been robbed at least twice and that he was being stalked.

Even with police reports of a confession in the case, still unanswered is a question that continues to plague the Waco community: why Dotson, described as one of Dennehy's best friends, allegedly shot him.

"I wish we knew more," Bliss said. "We don't know why, and we don't know what happened."

Dotson had transferred to Baylor after two years of playing at a Texas junior college. While Dennehy had aspirations of playing professional basketball, Dotson saw little playing time last season and was expected to shop around for another school this summer.

Asked whether Dotson might have felt slighted by the basketball program, Holt said: "We wouldn't rule anything out as far as a motive."

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