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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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BREAKING NEWS: Authorities investigate student’s death

Posted: Wednesday, Dec. 31, 7:30 p.m. — D.C. officials are still investigating the death of GW Law School student Chris Bartok, whose lifeless body was found in the Potomac River two weeks ago.

Adrian Lavallee, general counsel for the D.C. Medical Examiner’s Office, would not comment on the circumstances surrounding Bartok’s death, but said it could be weeks before the investigation is completed.

On Dec. 19, a jogger spotted Bartok’s body in the Potomac River near the Lincoln Memorial, said Bob Ludwig, the University’s interim director of media relations.

Bartok, 26, from Morro Bay, Calif., had just completed his first semester at the Law School. He graduated from the California Institute of Technology in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and applied sciences.

Bartok was last seen Dec. 18 at McFadden’s bar on Pennsylvania Avenue, where he and his friends were celebrating the end of finals, said Bartok’s mother, who asked to remain anonymous.

After being notified Dec. 21 by her son’s roommates that Bartok had been missing for almost three days, Bartok’s mother filed a report with Metropolitan Police.

“I burst into tears,” said Bartok’s mother, recalling the moment when she learned of her son’s disappearance. “For him to be missing that long I knew immediately that it was not good and that he was probably dead.”

The following day, one of Bartok’s roommates went to the coroner’s office and identified her son’s body, Bartok’s mother said. Since Bartok was found without his cell phone or wallet, he could not be identified immediately after his body was found, she added.

After talking with her son’s friends, Bartok’s mother said her son’s death was not accidental or a suicide but was the result of “foul play.” MPD officials could not be reached for comment.

Friends told Bartok’s mother that while her son drank champagne, tequila and wine at McFadden’s the night of his disappearance, he did not appear to be drunk when he said he was going to the Foggy Bottom Metro station.

Bartok’s mother said her son was only wearing a T-shirt, socks and underwear when his body was discovered.

“My son wasn’t that drunk. Why would he take all his clothes off in the middle of the night and throw himself into the river?” she said. “That makes no sense.”

In the weeks before his death, Bartok showed no signs that anything was amiss, said his mother, adding that he was “so excited because he worked so hard” in studying for his final exams.

Bartok, a gourmet chef and automobile enthusiast, was studying to become a patent lawyer.

“He was on the threshold of a career he really, really loved,” his mother said. “He found his niche in life. He was so happy and then this happened.”

A memorial service for Bartok will be held Jan. 9 at 1:15 p.m. in the Marvin Center’s Dorothy Betts Theater.

Log on to throughout the winter break for more details on this developing story as they become available.

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