ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Wednesday marks exactly three months since a SUNY Oneonta student and fraternity pledge died after he was found wandering the bitter cold in the early hours of the morning.
“I cry every day for this kid. I know something happened to him, and I want to know exactly what happened,” says Miguel Castro, father to 20-year-old Tyler LoPresti-Castro.
Miguel says it’s been an agonizing wait as investigators still work at piecing together exactly how his son Tyler ended up freezing to his death back on January 27.
“I can’t talk to him anymore, you know what I’m saying? I can’t go to his graduation. I was very proud of this kid,” says Miguel.
“We just miss him, and the more that it drags, it’s more stressful to the family,” adds Frank Castro, Tyler’s uncle and Miguel’s brother.
Tyler, a sophomore at SUNY Oneonta, was on his way to a fraternity party the night before he died. His family says he was trying to join Zeta Beta Tau.
That night it was negative six degrees and windy. As NEWS10 has reported, Tyler was found around 6 a.m. at a public transit garage and later died at a local hospital. Oneonta Police say by tracking Tyler’s cell phone, it looks like he walked, without a jacket, across Interstate 88 until he came to fall at the garage.
“I’m not convinced. It just doesn’t make no sense to me. Why would he walk there when he had a car? Did he walk to the party? Why did he leave? And no one saw him or talked to him? I just don’t buy it,” Miguel says in disbelief.
“We don’t know exactly why. It’s really pretty inexplicable to us as to why during that very, very cold evening he would take a walk on the interstate,” says Oneonta Police Chief Christopher Witzenburg.
He says a witness did see a man matching Tyler’s description walking in the area, and even though he was on the highway, given the time of year and weather, Witzenburg says he’s unsurprised they’ve found no evidence there were any cars on the interstate at that time to see Tyler.
He adds despite the phone data and alcohol in Tyler’s blood stream, the department still considers his death “suspicious”. Investigators are now waiting to get back some new warrants for certain cell phone and social media data.
“After he left the party, we really just don’t know where he was, who he spoke with, or if he spoke to anyone. He had some messages left on his phone that we haven’t been able to access, and he stopped looking at his phone sometime around 12 o’clock that night,” Chief Witzenburg explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Miguel says his son wanted to be an accountant. He was good with numbers, good with sports, and knew what he wanted out of life. If he can’t have it, his family is at least determined that if anyone else is involved, Tyler gets justice.
“I’m not going to rest until I find out what happened to my son,” says Miguel.
“Tyler should be remembered for his love for his family and his friends, and we loved him back,” says Frank.
Chief Witzenburg adds it pains him to see the family’s suffering, but he wants to assure them his department is doing its best.
“I think about [Tyler] all the time. I think this is a case that has touched all of us in some way. You know, I have two college age children of my own, so it is heartbreaking and on any level loss of life, but especially this young man who tragically lost his life too soon,” he says.