Student body president murdered

March 6, 2008 6:09:13 PM PST
The University of North Carolina student body president was found shot to death on a city street in what police said Thursday appeared to be a random crime, stunning the campus community who knew her well. Thousands of students gathered silently on campus to mourn Eve Marie Carson, whose body was discovered about a mile away early Wednesday. The 22-year-old senior from Athens, Ga., had been shot have been made.

"We have lost someone whom we cherish and love," university Chancellor James Moeser told a massive crowd on the school's Polk Place quad. "We're all in a state of shock."

Police found Carson's vehicle, a blue 2005 Toyota Highlander with Georgia plates, about a mile from where her body was found after receiving a tip Thursday afternoon from a witness who spotted it near the main drag through the popular college town about 45 minutes west of Raleigh.

Toby Rice, of Chapel Hill, told The Associated Press his wife discovered the car and called 911.

"We saw it on the news and we heard the woman is the president of the student body, and she goes, 'Oh my God, I just found the car,"' Rice said.

Carson's body was found on the street at an intersection after neighbors reported hearing shots about 5 a.m. Wednesday in an upscale residential area. It was not clear why she was in the area, which does not have student housing.

Police publicly identified the shooting victim as Carson on Thursday, and police Chief Brian Curran said her death appeared to be a random act. Police had no evidence other than her car, and the medical examiner said they was no indication that Carson had been sexually assaulted.

Curran said police had been in contact with authorities in Alabama investigating the killing of a female student at Auburn University, but added that the cases do not appear to be connected.

Moeser said there was nothing to link Carson's slaying to anyone on North Carolina's campus.

"My information is she was an extraordinarily busy woman and it wasn't unusual for her to go to the office in the middle of the night," Curran said. "But we don't know that's what she was doing."

Carson was last seen alive 1:30 a.m. Wednesday, when she stayed behind at home to do schoolwork while her roommates went out.

Moeser said he got a call early Thursday informing him that Carson was the victim.

"It was shocking," he said. "I sat down and said `Oh my God.' I couldn't believe this."

On campus, students passed out daisies and carnations, and large boards were erected for students to leave written memories. A candlelight vigil was held at The Pit, a popular campus gathering spot. Dozens of counselors from both North Carolina and nearby Duke University were available to talk to students.

"The strange thing, how the last time I saw her we made the types of plans where you know you're going to run into someone," said Keegan DeLancie, a senior from Los Angeles and fellow Morehead scholar "I'd like to think somehow we will again."

Carson was a prestigious Morehead-Cain scholar and a North Carolina Fellow, taking part in a four-year leadership development program for undergraduates. A premed student, she majored in political science and biology, taught science at a Chapel Hill elementary school, studied abroad in Cuba, and spent summers volunteering in Ecuador, Egypt and Ghana as part of a school program.

"I credit my prior experiences, especially my past two Morehead summers, for preparing me to get along with pretty much whatever comes my way," she wrote in an e-mail posted on the Morehead Web site.

In her position as student body president, she was a member of the university's Board of Trustees. At inauguration, she said, "This year will be a year of growth and inclusion. ... What an amazing year this is going to be."

Moeser said he last saw Carson on Tuesday, at the Tar Heels men's basketball game against Florida State.

"This is a tragedy magnified and multiplied by the number and depth of relationships, many relationships that Eve Carson had on this campus," Moeser told the students. "This enormous throng is a testament to the many and deep relationships.

"Eve Carson personified the Carolina spirit."

A man answering the phone at her father Bob Carson's business, Carson Advisory Inc. in Athens, said the family had no comment.

Maxine Easom, the principal of Clarke Central High School in Athens, where Carson graduated as valedictorian in 2004 and was also elected student body president, said she and staff members were devastated.

"Eve was just the most wonderful young woman you would ever want to know," Easom said. "She was brilliant. She was absolutely beautiful. Everything she did was aimed at helping other people. It's one of the greatest tragedies I've ever known. Eve was one of the young women who could change the world."


Associated Press writers Estes Thompson in Raleigh, and Daniel Yee in Atlanta, Ga., contributed to this report.