New Hartford High School was a solemn place Monday as students grieved the death of a SUNY Brockport student who police say was murdered by her boyfriend on Saturday.
Both the victim, 18 year old Alexandra Kogut and her accused killer, 21 year old Clayton Whittemore attended New Hartford high before going their separate ways. Kogut was enrolled as a freshman at Brockport, while Whittemore attends Utica College.
When word of the murder got around by way of facebook, the students at New Hartford High School decided to get together to make a statement by wearing purple outfits. Elizabeth Mosher told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon that not only was purple Kogut's favorite color, it is also a symbol of October being Domestic Violence Awareness month. "It's very sad. just remembering Alex, who she was and who should have been able to be." Mosher said.
W hittemore has pleaded not guilty to 2nd degree murder and remains in jail in Monroe County. The couple apparently got into a violent argument inside Kogut's dormatory room at Brockport near Rochester.
W hen Kogut attended New Hartford High School, she was the captain of the girl's swimming team. Whittemore was also a stand-out athlete who played hockey and ran cross-country. Stunned former classmates say they seemed like a normal happy young couple. School Superintendent Robert Nole brought in the district's Crisis Team to help both students and staff deal with their grief. "I don't know if you can make sense of something like this. All you can do is respond to what's taken place and be here for our students and our staff. Our community has been wonderful." Nole said.
A lexandra Kogut's family issued a statement asking for privacy. The statement read in part: "her lovely and sweet demeanor was truly infectious and she will be forever missed."
The tragedy has brought attention to Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Oneida County Sheriff Robert Maciol said, "certainly she had so much ahead of her and that life was cut short by such a brutal act. It's very upsetting for the police ...Because we see the effects of domestic violence every day of our job." Maciol pointed to recent statistics which show that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women in the United States are victims of assault by an intimate partner each year.
In response to the growing problem, Sheriff Maciol says his department will soon begin compiling domestic violence reports and make home visits. "We'll be looking at hot spots, homes that are frequent for domestics more than once. We'll be paying some unscheduled visits to check on the victims to see how things are going, to make sure an incident gets reported or action needs to be taken like an arrest or referral."