Hundreds of Eastern Washington University newspapers go missing

WASHINGTON —Campus police at Eastern Washington University have suspended theirinvestigation into an alleged theft of student newspapers this week.

As many as 533 copies of TheEasterner weekly newspaper were taken from stands sometime before Saturdayevening. Easterner Editor-in-ChiefAmy Meyer said staff members began investigating Tuesday, though Meyer noticedsuspiciously few papers in one bin Saturday.

Meyer said each copy is worth about $1.97 — 81 cents inreimbursed advertising, 28 cents in printing costs and 88 cents in workerwages. That represents as much as $1,050 in losses if 533 copies were indeedstolen.

Gary Gasseling, deputy chief of the campus policedepartment, said the investigation has reached a standstill because of a lackof evidence and leads.

The papers were taken from as many as five of the 60buildings on campus. Meyer said about 100 were found in nearby recycling bins.Gasseling said police would do no more active investigating because so few weretaken.

“Things would be different if they had taken every newspaperon campus,” Gasseling said.

The Easterner hasa total distribution of 3,000. It was stolen on at least one other occasion inthe late 1990s or earlier 2000s, Meyer said.

The issue in question focused heavily on a recent drug bustinvolving current and former Sigma Nu fraternity brothers. A centerpiece story,a front-page opinion piece and a man-on-the-street interview piece each coveredthe bust.

Meyer said the school’s Greek community was not pleased withthe stories.

Parker Hemingway, president of EWU’s Sigma Nu chapter,forwarded questions to Tim Braddick at the national headquarters. Braddick,director of fraternal operations, did not respond by press time.

Gasseling said there’s no proof the Greek community hadanything to do with the alleged theft. In fact, Gasseling said it is not filedas a theft with the police department; instead, it’s a “suspiciouscircumstance.”

“No one can say they were stolen,” he said. “We can’tclassify it as a theft.”

However, he said police would open the case up again if asuspect were identified. As of now, though, there are no suspects. He saidpolice did not review security footage for potential suspects because the binsare not in the cameras’ lines of sight.

Even if the police did catch someone, Gasseling said theywould likely “handle it internally” and probably would not prosecute. He saidhe wouldn’t want a theft on a student’s permanent record and would pursue“corrective” rather than punitive measures.