By Adventist Today News Team, September 19, 2013
It may take two to four weeks for the medical examiner to determine the cause of death, but police officers who responded to a private residence in Keene, Texas, at around 11 p.m. last Tuesday (September 10) found a 22-year-old white male dead. They "believed the death to be of a suspicious nature and called for a crime scene unit" that serves the larger Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, according to the Keene Star.
The young man has been identified as Aaron Preston, a member of the Keene Seventh-day Adventist Church, as is his mother, Lynne Preston, states an announcement on the church web site. The largest institution in Keene is Southwestern Adventist University and an internal memo distributed to employees and students at the university said that he was "one of our alumni (class of 2013)." When Adventist Today asked the vice president for student services at the university about Preston, it received an Email from Darcy Force, director of public relations, stating that Preston "was a senior biology/chemistry major last enrolled at Southwestern in the Spring 2013 semester."
The internal memo stated, "Aaron had many friends on our campus who studied with him, played intramural sports with him, as well as worked with him at camp." The announcement on the church web site stated that "after working as summer camp staff at Camp Kulaqua, he joined Gary Blanchard, Texas Conference youth director, visiting area churches to share his story of his … faith in Christ." It also said that a memorial service will be held on Sabbath, September 21, at 4:30 p.m. in the church sanctuary.
The local newspaper quoted Keene Police Chief Rocky Alberti, "the investigation is ongoing" and includes local officers, as well as investigators from the neighboring town of Cleburne and the district attorney's staff. Detectives have interviewed several "persons of interest," but no arrests have been made. The medical examiner is waiting for the results of toxicology tests.
Both the university counseling center and the church pastoral staff are offering counseling for students and others in the community. "The death of a student is relatively rare around an Adventist campus," a minister who has worked on a number of campuses both as a pastor and a faculty member, told Adventist Today. "This undoubtedly leaves a real emotional scar on many of the young people who knew him. Adventist campuses are supposed to be places of refuge and safety."