Local News

Mother, Daughter Remain Calm During Va. Tech Lockdown

Posted August 21, 2006

— A Raleigh teen was among the Virginia Tech students barricaded in their dormitories Monday while authorities combed the campus for a prison escapee suspected in two slayings.

Grace Whiteley's parents dropped her off in Blacksburg Sunday to start her freshman year at Virginia Tech. Both she and her mother told WRAL they will never forget her first day at college.

"I walked out of class and headed toward the Squire Student Center. There were a few teachers or professors there, and they told us that we needed to get away immediately," Grace said. "I saw a few cops with guns."

Virginia Tech officials put the campus on lockdown while authorities searched for 24-year-old William Charles Morva, who's accused of killing an unarmed hospital security guard and a sheriff's deputy after escaping from a hospital in Blacksburg Sunday afternoon.

Morva was captured Monday afternoon near campus, authorities said.

Officers cleared classroom and laboratory buildings one at a time Monday morning, with guns trained on students as they filed out. Students were then told not to leave their dorms.

Grace's mother, Eve Whiteley, watched the day's events unfold on television in her Raleigh home after getting a phone call Monday morning about the lockdown.

"He's 24, has the ability to blend in on campus very easily, and he killed two people. It shows he must be desperate," Eve Whiteley said.

School officials kept students and families updated through e-mails and phone calls.

Eve Whiteley said she was confident with campus security and wasn't concerned about her daughter's safety.

Grace Whiteley also seemed calm, although she agreed with her mother that Morva's ability to blend in with students made things a bit more tense.

"This man looks like an average student and could be anywhere around campus. That's the most scary thing, from my perspective," she said. "There are some girls in our dorm who are pretty shaken up, but there are some (resident advisers) and people at our dorm that are keeping us calm."


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