Posted Aug. 4, 2004
Jarion Childs, a standout defensive star and leader for the AU men’s basketball team from 1997-2000, was shot and killed in his hometown of Groton, Conn. after breaking into a Dairy Queen shortly after midnight on June 28. His death has been ruled a homicide, according to WFSB, a news channel in Connecticut. Since then, Childs has also been named a “person of interest” involved in murder.
An autopsy revealed that Childs was shot fatally in the back once. The Dairy Queen’s owner, Steven Botchis, fired the shot.
Police responded to a 911 call just after midnight on Monday, June 28. Police said Botchis was finishing up for the night, after the restaurant had closed at 10 p.m., when Childs, 27, broke in by prying the back door’s lock with a crowbar, NBC 30, a local news affiliate in the Groton area, reported.
Botchis shot Childs after he reportedly struck Botchis three times with the crowbar.
Botchis was treated for injuries to his head and ribs and was later released from a local hospital. Childs, however, could not be revived.
Childs’ funeral was held July 3, however, since then WFSB news channel in Connecticut reported that Childs may be responsible for three murders in southeastern Connecticut, though other news sources say he is linked to two. A police warrant used to search Childs’ ex-girlfriend’s Rhode Island apartment links Childs to the murder of A. Gordon Jeffrey, which occurred near Stonington, Conn., according to WFSB. Jeffrey, 89, was beaten and robbed on May 14 and died two weeks later, according to WTNH, an ABC affiliate news channel in Connecticut.
Also on May 14, Dr. Eugene Mallove, a world-renowned cold fusion scientist, was beaten and died of injuries to the head and neck, the Norwich Bulletin reported July 28. Mallove’s van was found at a parking lot along Route 2, which leads to the part of Stonington where Jeffrey was beaten. Childs is “a person of interest,” Norwich police Lt. Timothy Menard told the Norwich Bulletin. Also, the Norwich police and Stonington police are communicating during their investigations.
Mallove, 56, ran the New Energy Foundation and was editor in chief of the magazine Infinite Energy. He researched cold fusion, the idea that energy can be released by passing an electric current through hydrogen found in seawater, according to the Discovery Channel. Mallove believed that scientists deliberately failed to replicate the experiment that would prove cold fusion’s abilities because those researching hot fusion, like his alma mater, MIT, did not want to lose government funding. Though some have called his death a conspiracy, the police say it was a random attack.
Childs’ death, and the manner in which it unfolded, shocked those who knew him during his time at AU.
Ed MacLaughlin, the assistant athletic director for facilities and operations at AU, said he met Childs in 1998 when the two worked together at a summer basketball camp in Bender Arena. He closely followed Childs’ career at AU and said the former point guard was a positive role model for the campers, a leader to his teammates and just an overall good person.
“He was just a super nice kid,” said MacLaughlin.
Because of this, MacLaughlin was surprised by the news of Childs’ death.
“It was shocking, to say the least, because Jarion was one of the most good-natured and mild mannered young men I knew.”
On the court, Childs excelled as AU’s point guard. He was a two-time all-conference selection when AU was with the Colonial Athletic Association. In 2000, the association named Childs the defensive player of the year. Childs once ranked in the all-time top 10 NCAA Division I leaders in steals. He still holds the AU mark for career steals.
“He was a really good point guard and a great defender,” said MacLaughlin. “He would eat guys alive.”
Former AU player, assistant coach and head coach, Chris Knoche, coached Childs during his freshman year before leaving to become the radio voice for the Maryland Terrapins. Knoche said he knew Childs as “a very fine player and a good kid from a nice family.”
While what happened to Childs in the years between his graduation from AU and his death remains speculation, in regards to the Groton incident Knoche hopes people don’t look at this as some ordinary story of a good kid gone wrong.
“The sad part is that people hear these things and assume it’s just another young thug who wound up in the wrong place at the wrong time,” said Knoche. “The irony, of course, being that the Jarion we all knew on the court was always in the right place at the right time.”
A funeral service was held at the Dinoto Funeral Home in Mystic, Conn. on Saturday, July 3. MacLaughlin said three of Childs’ former teammates served as pallbearers. Childs is survived by his parents James and Eva, his older brother James Jr., three sisters, Sharon, Sendra and Sonya, his grandmother Eva Jennings and a host of aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and cousins.
-Eagle Staff Writer Anne Godlasky contributed to this report.