19 and Coming Into His Own, Until a Fatal Night of Hazing

“This has been a long-simmering issue and an open and notorious secret on college campuses,” said Tom Kline, the lawyer for the family, referring to hazing rituals. “It’s the brutality and the depravity of it that has struck a nerve.”

But lost in the swirling debate over what happened in the Beta Theta Pi house, a red brick mansion on Burrowes Street in State College, Pa., is something essential, said Mr. Piazza’s father, James, who also works in accounting: the boy at the center of it, the young man they loved.

He was devotedly goofy, said his brother, Mike, who is a 21-year-old rising senior at Penn State, his hands trembling as he recalled his brother. At random Timothy would choose a foreign accent while playing a board game and never break character. A tempestuous toddler, he insisted to anyone who would listen that his red hair was brown.

He embraced his flame-colored curls as he grew older and looked forward to when he…

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