Clayton Whittemore, 21, is escorted to his arraignment in Sweden Town Court. JESSICA ALAIMO (Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)
Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
The suspect accused of beating his girlfriend to death at The College at Brockport early Saturday pleaded not guilty at his arraignment Saturday afternoon in Sweden Town Court.
Clayton S. Whittemore, 21, of New Hartford, near Utica, was arrested on second-degree murder charges related to the "brutal" death of a student inside McLean Hall, authorities announced in a news conference Saturday afternoon.
Robert Kehoe, The College at Brockport police chief, said there was "extensive trauma to the upper body."
Whittemore, who is not a student at the college, was represented at his arraignment by Julie Cianca of the Monroe County Public Defender's Office and appeared before Justice Robert Connors. Connors said he did not have the authority to set bail, and remanded Whittemore to the custody of the Monroe County Sheriff. Whittemore will be back at Sweden Town Court at 1 p.m. Thursday for his preliminary hearing.
According to the felony complaint, he admitted to causing the death of the victim, whose name has not been released. The time of death was between 1 and 2:30 a.m., the complaint said.
Police said the woman's body was found after her mother called the school concerned that she could not reach her daughter by cell phone. Whittemore, who was dating the victim, was caught by police at a Thruway rest stop in De Witt, Onondaga County, about 4 a.m.
Whittemore is a former standout athlete at New Hartford and was featured as an "Athlete of the Week" by WKTV Utica in 2010 as a member of the hockey team. He was named Division II player of the year, according to the report.
College spokesman John Follaco said an email was sent to students about the death at 5:30 a.m. and a statement was posted on the school's website. Later in the day, Brockport officials posted a message on the school's Facebook page to announce an arrest had been made.
"We are thankful for the cooperation between University Police, the Monroe County Sheriff's Office, and New York State Police, which resulted in a quick arrest," the statement said.
Peter DiLorenzo, of Long Island, said his son plays soccer for the school and he and his family were on their way to a game when they heard about the incident. DiLorenzo said, from a parent's perspective, he hopes the tragedy changes some rules on visitation inside dorms.
"I know it hurts but there should be a central location for (students) to hang out in (the dorms)," he said.
DiLorenzo said people were taking to social media to find out more information about the victim.
"You send your kid up here for two months and this is what you get," he said of the victim's parents. "This was just sad. She was a beautiful girl."
Freshman Katherine Moore, 18, of Mahopac said she learned about the slaying via the email Saturday morning.
"I feel safe, but I just wish (the school) would tell us more," she said.
College officials said in a statement that once the Sheriff's Office identifies the victim, that information would be shared with the campus community.
The school's Counseling Center in Hazen Hall was opened Saturday until 5 p.m. and will reopen between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday for any student, staff or faculty member, school officials announced.
On Sunday, the Newman Catholic Campus Center at the college will open its doors open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to students, faculty and the community.
A temporary Parent Hotline has been set up to field questions and concerns from parents. That number is (585) 734-3925.
McLean Hall is a dormitory near the center of campus, between Residence Drive and Holley Street.
We will post more information as it becomes available on WGRZ.com