Investigation closed into death of Kansas Wesleyan instructor
Salina police said the investigation into the death of a Kansas Wesleyan instructor was not a criminal matter and the case is closed.
The body of Dr. Eileen St. John was found in her office on campus Thursday morning. She died from a gunshot wound.
SALINA, Kan. (KAKE) - Kansas Wesleyan University has postponed all activities Thursday through Sunday and canceled class Thursday and Friday after the head of the teacher education department was found dead in her office on campus.
Now, students are reacting to the news of her death and thinking about her legacy.
“Caring, loving. I haven’t heard one bad thing about her class,” said Skyler Evans, a junior at KWU.
Dr. Eileen St. John was the head of the KWU teaching education department and was well loved by students.
“She will be remembered as someone who is kind and caring. She was very laid back when I knew her and just fun to be around,” said Maria Stanislow, a KWU sophomore.
Just before 8:00 Thursday morning, Salina police responded to a call about an injured person inside of Pioneer Hall on Kansas Wesleyan’s campus, and when they located St. John, she was declared deceased.
Both police and the university say "that there was no danger to campus at any time, and there is no danger now.”
Kansas Wesleyan University says St. John tragically passed away in her office. KWU sent out an email telling students classes were canceled due to a tragedy on campus and then there was a campus wide meeting explaining the news to students and faculty.
“You could feel the pressure in the air of like how serious this was, because at this time the students didn't know if it was a student or faculty member that passed. And then as soon as her name was mentioned, I just felt everything drop. I was in absolute shock,” said Cynder Toman, sophomore at KWU.
KWU says she was a leader on campus who gave her all to students every day.
Her students say she was funny and always knew how to make people laugh.
“She will be greatly missed by more than just a handful of people. She will be missed by everyone here at Kansas Wesleyan and in the community,” Evans said.
Counselors and chaplains from all over Salina were called onto campus to provide students support processing the tragedy- but the coyotes are already banding together in many ways.
“People are gathering together and supporting each other. I mean just walking past someone I’ve only talked to once, they reached out and said hey are you okay? How are you doing? People have just been pulling in for hugs, checking in on everyone so I think for the future this will bring this community just a whole lot closer,” said Aubreigh Heck, a senior at KWU.
Kansas Wesleyan University released the following statement Thursday morning:
"Scriptures say to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. Today is a time of mourning, the likes of which our campus has not seen in some time.
"Dr. Eileen St. John, head of the teacher education department, passed away in her office this morning. Dr. St. John was a leader on campus and a family-oriented individual, who gave her all to her students every day. She will truly be missed, and we will post additional information remembering her life and her effect on KWU in the very near future.
"This is a time that many of us have never faced, but I want you to know that we will get through it together, as a family.
"Chaplains are available right now in the SAC, Shriwise Dining Hall, UUMC and at 1808 Highland (the Campus Ministry house). In addition, the community is supporting us by offering counselors from USD 305 and other organizations. People grieve differently, in different ways and at different times, and we want you to know that we respect that. Services will be available for some time and at different locations through the KWU footprint. If, at any time, you have a question about the location of those services, you may visit with Student Development or Human Resources.
"Classes are cancelled for Thursday and Friday, and all activities – to include Athletics – that are scheduled through Sunday will be postponed. In addition, Pioneer Hall is locked down today, Thursday, Feb. 8.
"Additional information regarding coursework or activities will be sent, as needed, in the coming days.
"I also want you, and everyone, to know that there was no danger to campus at any time, and there is no danger now. The campus is secure and for that, we are grateful.
"In conclusion, we are all processing this terrible news together. We will view it in different ways, and at different times. Please give each other grace, patience and kindness as we mourn the loss of one of our own.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, know you can always call 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline.