Bucks County native beaten to death near W.Va. campus

Kevin Figaniak was beaten to death as he and a friend walked from a bar to the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University.
Kevin Figaniak was beaten to death as he and a friend walked from a bar to the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University. (Wheeling Jesuit University Athletics)
Posted: September 04, 2013

Investigators and those acquainted with the victim struggled to find answers Monday after a Bucks County native was killed near the campus of the small Catholic university he attended in Wheeling, W.Va.

Kevin M. Figaniak, 21, was beaten unconscious about 1:30 a.m. Saturday as he and a friend walked from a bar to the campus of Wheeling Jesuit University.

Figaniak died early the next day at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The impact of the killing rippled across three communities: the university where Figaniak, a business major, was about to start his final year; Perkasie Borough, where he grew up and attended Pennridge High School; and the tight-knit lacrosse world of which he had become a part.

By Monday, a tribute page emerged on Facebook, along with plans for a memorial later this year. Figaniak's friends and former teammates mourned his passing there and on Twitter, although some said his family had asked them not to speak publicly.

Attempts to reach his parents, Valerie and Tom Figaniak, or other relatives, were unsuccessful,

There have been no arrests.

Figaniak's companion, who was slightly injured in the attack, said he didn't know why they were targeted, according to Sgt. Gregg McKenzie of the Wheeling Police Department.

"Any lead I get right now is viable," McKenzie said Monday.

The town, with nearly 30,000 people, has its occasional bar fights, but homicides are rare. According to federal crime data, Ohio County, which includes Wheeling, logged just one murder in 2011.

"This is something way out of the ordinary," said McKenzie, who couldn't recall a murder last year. He said the department has vowed to "exhaust all resources" to find the killers and is weighing offers from other agencies to assist.

On campus, students and faculty turned out Saturday for a prayer service, but learned Sunday that Figaniak had died. "Today is a difficult day for our campus," the university president, the Rev. James Fleming, said in a statement.

Figaniak was a standout player at Pennridge High School. In 2010, he scored 43 goals and was a first-team All-Suburban One Continental Conference player. At WJU, he played lacrosse and hockey.

Figaniak spent a few weeks this summer as an intern at Lacrosse Evolution, which runs camps and training centers in King of Prussia and Downingtown.

"The time he did spend with us, he showed promise," chief operating office Dave Donovan said in an e-mail. "We were sorry to see him go then and now."

No funeral arrangements had been announced.


Contact John P. Martin at 215-925-2649, at jmartin@phillynews.com, or @JPMartinInky on Twitter.

comments powered by Disqus
|
|
|
|
|