Metro
    Next Score View the next score

    Amherst College student was murdered in Mexico, family says

    22dorogi -- Andrew Dorogi of Amherst College. (Amherst College Athletics)
    Amherst College Athletics
    Andrew Dorogi.

    AMHERST — The family of an Amherst College senior who was found dead in March in Mexico City said Friday that he was murdered, their first public comments on an investigation that has been kept largely under wraps by authorities.

    Andrew Dorogi, 21, who grew up in Ohio and was scheduled to graduate from Amherst later this month, was killed while returning from a vacation with several friends to Cabo San Lucas in Mexico, a family spokeswoman told the Globe.

    The spokeswoman said the family would have no further comment, citing the ongoing investigation into Dorogi’s mysterious death.

    Advertisement

    Mexican authorities have provided few details since Dorogi’s body was found March 16. The US State Department has referred questions about the investigation to Mexican officials, and the Dorogi family had not previously spoken publicly about how he died.

    Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
    The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    In early April, Amherst College’s president said she had been told by Dorogi’s family that he had not committed suicide, and that his death remained under investigation.

    Last month, after repeated inquiries by the Globe, Mexican prosecutors issued a statement about a man whose body had been found on train tracks at a subway station outside Mexico City. The man, whom prosecutors did not identify, had been electrocuted and suffered burns, according to the statement. Prosecutors declined to say whether the man was Dorogi, but said they had launched a manslaughter investigation.

    On Friday, the prosecutor’s office said no one was available to discuss the investigation. A US State Department official said local authorities in Mexico were leading the probe.

    Dorogi’s grandfather said he was frustrated by the seemingly slow pace of the investigation.

    Advertisement

    “I don’t think the Mexican government is really doing that much,” Joseph Dorogi, 86, a retired engineer who lives in Ohio, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday.

    He said his grandson was supposed to be traveling back to the United States through Mexico City International Airport when he died.

    “I’d like to know what happened,” Joseph Dorogi said. “The one thing I know is he’s gone and there’s nothing we can say or do that can change that. That’s the way his parents feel and assessing the blame doesn’t bring him back. He’s gone.”

    At a funeral Mass held in March at the Cleveland church where Dorogi had been an altar boy, mourners heard how he treasured every second on the field during his senior season on Amherst’s football team.

    The 6-foot-1-inch Dorogi was competing with two other running backs for more playing time, and during a home game against Trinity College last November he took matters into his own hands, two teammates said. During a kickoff, he pulled a freshman off special teams and sprinted down the field in his place.

    Advertisement

    When coach E.J. Mills realized Dorogi was on the field, he was stunned.

    “Initially I was upset and said, ‘What were you thinking,’ but Andrew just shrugged his shoulders,” Mills said in a statement provided to the Globe. “It was one of those moments where I just could not get mad at him.”

    “It was classic ‘Dorogi,’ ” said Mills, who told the story at Dorogi’s funeral. “He just wanted to get on the field and help his team.”

    Bill Beard, who coached Dorogi on the hockey team at University School, a private prep school for boys in Hunting Valley, Ohio, said the wake and funeral for his former student were wrenching.

    “For me it was surreal in the sense that at some point I just figured I’d wake up and it wouldn’t be real,” said Beard, who was also an administrator at University School. “As a parent myself I can’t imagine burying one of my children.”

    Dorogi set himself apart with his enthusiasm and a circle of friends that came in “all shapes and sizes,” he said.

    “He never shied away from anything,” Beard said.

    Mike Odenwaelder, who played football with Dorogi at Amherst, said his former teammate used to drive around school in a beat-up, black SUV. Behind the wheel, he wore sunglasses and a smile.

    “He was a ball of positive energy,” Odenwaelder said. “He had an infectious smile — just always seemed to be upbeat and positive.”

    Noah John, 18, a freshman wide receiver on the Amherst football team, said players have tried to cope with Dorogi’s death by gathering to tell stories about him. Several weeks ago, an outdoor service was held by candlelight on campus, he said.

    His teammates often talk about “being more like Dorogi.”

    “We never called him Andrew. Always the last name, Dorogi,” said John, who is from Albany, N.Y. “A lot of times people here can be shy and reserved, but not him. He would say hi to everyone even if it was his first time meeting you. He would be very open; treat you like you were a lifelong friend.”

    Karen Godt, executive director and founder of Hope for Honduran Children Foundation, a nonprofit group in Cleveland, recalled Dorogi’s volunteer work for her organization seven years ago in Flor Azul, Honduras.

    In the evenings, volunteers gathered around a bonfire with local boys who were living on a farm run by the charity, Godt said.

    Dorogi, a baritone who performed in the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus, rose to sing.

    “I remember it touched everybody,” Godt said. “There were a lot of tears and emotion.”

    Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @lauracrimaldi. Aimee Ortiz can be reached at aimee.ortiz@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @aimee_ortiz.