Cause unknown in Pioneer Hall freshman’s death

Sam Kean

For the second time in less than a year, a University freshman died in a campus residence hall.

Aaron M. Minor, a 19-year-old College of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences student, was found dead in his Pioneer Hall suite Saturday afternoon.

The Hennepin County medical examiner said an autopsy on Minor was complete Sunday and “couldn’t find anything wrong with anything in his body (or) any of his organs.” The medical examiner did not release an official cause of death. Toxicology results will take five to seven days.

University police dispatch said “there was no visible signs of suspicious circumstances” – such as alcohol use, drug use or foul play – at the scene.

Last February, University freshman Jonathan Thielen was discovered dead in a Bailey Hall room. He died of blunt head trauma after falling from a bunk bed.

At an all-resident meeting Sunday night in Pioneer, University police Officer Josh Betts said there was nothing he or his partner could do when they arrived. Minor was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Muskego, Wis., native was last seen alive Friday night around 11:30. University Police received a 911 call around 3:30 p.m. Saturday saying Minor was unconscious.

University police Officer Troy Buhta said he encouraged anyone with information about parties Friday night to call University police because, he said, “We think (Minor) was at a party, not a real long period of time” on Friday night – but Buhta could not confirm this.

After the meeting Sunday night, counselors from the University Counseling and Consulting Services stayed to address student concerns.

Pioneer Hall staff alerted students to a male resident’s death Saturday by placing notes on their doors. The notes encouraged residents to call their parents and report their safety.

But the disbelief hadn’t worn away by Sunday night.

“It was a very big shock to wake up and see police officers, the medical examiner and a gurney,” said sophomore biology major Brittany Baldner.

Matthew Andrews, an undecided sophomore, took a more reflective view. “It makes me wonder how vulnerable people are,” Andrews said.

Minor’s parents were unavailable for comment Sunday.

Scot Passler taught British literature to Minor last year in Muskego, a suburb outside Milwaukee, and had “only good things to say about him.

“He was a good student, had his homework done, good grades, quiet (and) responsible,” Passler said.


– Amy Hackbarth and Mike Zacharias contributed
to this report.