Student From Seattle Dies In Michigan Murder-Suicide

KALAMAZOO, Mich. - Two Kalamazoo College students, including one from Seattle, were found shot to death in a dormitory room today, apparently in a murder-suicide.

The students were identified as Margaret Wardle, 19, of Plainwell, Mich., and Neenef Odah, 20, of Seattle. Wardle was a sophomore, Odah a junior majoring in computer science.

Police Capt. Jerome Bryant says it appeared that Odah shot Wardle, and then killed himself.

The students had dated in the past, but had broken up about a month ago, college President James Jones Jr. said.

Both were found about 12:15 a.m. today in Odah's first-floor dorm room in Dewaters Residence Hall, a three-story brick building that houses about 110 students. The college is a private liberal-arts school with about 1,400 students.

The shootings followed a late-night argument, said Jones. Students heard the argument and loud noise and called campus security.

Because of constant fighting, the pair had decided to take a break from each other over the summer, said Odah's close friend, Frank Church, 21, also a junior at Kalamazoo College. When school started again, the couple got back together, but it lasted only a short time before Wardle ended the relationship again, Church said.

"The breakup was a really big deal for him," Church said. "He told me it was a really rough summer - that they weren't getting along and it was hurting him. He felt very empty when they broke up."

Church said news of the deaths stunned him, and that he has no idea how or where Odah might have gotten a gun.

Reached at his Magnolia home this morning, Odah's father said he did not want to comment.

Church, who is one of the heads of a dance company, Frelon, said he had known Odah since orientation two years ago, and that when he needed a dancer for his production of "Breaking Free" earlier this year, he asked Odah.

"He helped out on one or two of the numbers," Church said of the hip-hop dancing style. "He was good at it."

All college classes were canceled for today and two sessions have been set up on campus for students to express their grief, said Jones, the campus president.

College students, staff and faculty received e-mail about the slayings, he said, and the college has assembled a counseling team for students.

"Please be assured," Jones said in a prepared statement to parents, "that the faculty and staff of the college will do everything possible to care for your sons and daughters as though they were our own."

Seattle Times staff reporter Arthur Santana contributed to this story.

Research assistance for this article was provided by Miyoko Wolf of The Seattle Times library.