Fiocco lawyer’s hide-and-seek tip disputed

THURSDAY, 4 p.m. — The tip about a game of hide-and-seek provided to state police by Glenn Zeitz, the lawyer for the family of John Fiocco Jr., has been contradicted by a student who says he provided the information that led Zeitz to contact investigators.

“Mainly what happened was the lawyer taking what I said, only one part of what I said, and running with it,” the student, who wished to remain anonymous, said.

The student said he was contacted by Zeitz via telephone. According to the student, Zeitz asked how difficult it is to access the basement area of Wolfe Hall, and what students might do if they had access.

The student then said that while he had never heard of anyone being in the basement, “it wouldn’t have shocked me if someone could have gotten in there.” He suggested some reasons students might want to access the basement, including “messing around or playing games.”

Zeitz asked what kind of games could be played there, and the student provided hide-and-seek as “an example of a possible game.”

Capt. Al Della Fave of state police said investigators were cautious about Zeitz’s tip from the beginning.

“We felt it was suspect,” Della Fave said, though he added that state police felt obligated to follow up on the tip.

Della Fave said the tip has not helped in the investigation.

According to the student, on Nov. 9, a day or two after Zeitz contacted him, friends of Fiocco received an e-mail asking about a game of hide-and-seek.

On Nov. 15, a campus-wide e-mail was sent by Campus Police on behalf of state police in regard to a hide-and-seek game.

Since the e-mail, police and media outlets have searched for more details regarding the tip, but have yet to find any new information.

The student said that while answering Zeitz’s questions, he mentioned that he didn’t know of anyone going to the basement area of Wolfe, “but if I was sitting in class and overheard somebody with a story about the basement, it wouldn’t have surprised me.”

The student said he used the statement “as an example to show that somebody getting in there would not have been a huge shock to the world.”

According to an article in the Nov. 17 issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer, “a student at the College . overheard another student discussing a game of hide-and-seek.”

Zeitz told the Inquirer that “he had learned of the conversation about the game in the course of his private investigation.”

When asked why his version of the conversation was so different from Zeitz’s, the student said, “I don’t know if (Zeitz) misunderstood” the information.

The Signal went to Zeitz’s Haddonfield office to speak to him directly but declined to be interviewed. Additional interview requests via telephone and e-mail have been repeatedly turned down or not answered.

Though multiple people received the Nov. 9 e-mail, the student believes he is the only source on which Zeitz based the hide-and-seek tip.

“I can’t prove that (Zeitz) didn’t talk to (other students),” he said, “but in my opinion I’m 100 percent sure (the tip) was from me.”

The student said he believes this because a day or two after his conversation with Zeitz, he was contacted by state police.

“I spoke to (state police) and (they) told me that it was what I said that caused all this,” he said.

The student said he was “extremely upset” with the way his words have been interpreted by Zeitz “and further by every media in the state.”

“I can’t do anything,” he said. “I chose to talk to (Zeitz). He took what I said and ran with it.”

“He’s trying to build a lawsuit,” the student said.

On June 2, Zeitz filed an intent to sue the College on behalf of the Fiocco family, claiming the school could have done more to prevent Fiocco’s death.

In the Inquirer article, Zeitz was quoted as saying that he was “concerned about security at the school because many students had told him that (Wolfe’s) back door, which allows access to the room where the trash compactor is located, was often left open and used frequently by students.”

Della Fave said that when Zeitz contacted state police with the tip, he only indicated one student as the source of the information. State police then contacted the student.

According to the student, state police called him the day after he talked to Zeitz. “They heard I was saying a game of (hide-and-seek) was going on,” he said.

The student said that he then clarified for police what he had actually told Zeitz. “The state police in charge of the investigation know what I really said,” the student said. He said he spoke to the lead detective for the Fiocco investigation.

Della Fave said that part of the reason police were wary of the tip was because of the thorough interviews they have conducted since Fiocco disappeared on March 25. According to Della Fave, Zeitz has been conducting his own “independent investigation” into Fiocco’s disappearance. He said part of that investigation has included interviews with students already contacted by state police.

Matthew Golden, director of Communications and Media Relations, said the College was told by state police that Zeitz said “a student overheard someone talking about a game of hide-and-seek in Wolfe Hall.”

Golden said the College was asked by police to send a mass e-mail about the hide-and-seek game to students. “We have been told that the e-mail is all we should do for now,” he said.

— John Fialk contributed to this story