GW student murdered, killer confesses to crime

GW sophomore Jonathan Rizzo was found dead after disappearing for two days last month near his hometown of Kingston, Mass. Police arrested Gary Sampson, a 41 year-old resident of Abington, Mass., for Rizzo’s and two other unrelated murders July 31.

Sampson reportedly turned himself in to authorities in Plymouth, Vt., after a failed house burglary. He confessed to killing Rizzo, 69 year-old Phillip McCloskey of Taunton, Mass. and 58 year-old Robert Whitney of Concord, N.H., according to The Boston Globe.

According to reports, Sampson lured Rizzo, a Kappa Sigma fraternity member, to the side of the road on the student’s way home from work at a local restaurant July 27. Police told The Globe that Rizzo had stopped to help the man.

Sampson reportedly tied Rizzo, 19, to a tree with a nylon rope and stabbed him repeatedly in the neck and chest before slitting his throat. He took $110 in cash and Rizzo’s car, which was later found in Concord, N.H. near Whitney’s body.

Rizzo was last seen picking up a pizza after his shift at the Weathervane Restaurant in Plymouth, Mass. Rizzo’s family informed police of his disappearance July 28, after Rizzo failed to show up for work that day. His parents had just returned from out of town.

McCloskey, who was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, was found stabbed to death and covered with leaves in Marshfield July 26, the Associated Press reported. A former Concord city councilor, Whitney was found strangled to death in a lakeside New Hampshire summer home July 30.

Sampson waived extradition in Vermont to face charges in Massachusetts, where the crimes he committed are more severe. He was also wanted for several bank robberies in North Carolina.

Massachusetts Acting Governor Jane Swift has said she supports the death penalty for Sampson.

Because Massachusetts does not allow capital punishment, state attorneys must transfer the case to federal prosecutors who may charge Samson with a federal crime punishable by death under 1994 anti-carjacking statues.

Rizzo’s funeral service was held Aug. 4 at St. Mary’s Church in Plymouth, Mass. GW sponsored a bus that transported students, mostly Kappa Sigma members, to the small town for the service.

Citizens of Rizzo’s home town distributed black ribbons at Kingston’s 275th anniversary, celebrated the same day as the funeral, to remember the student.

–Kate Stepan

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