Mystery surrounds death of RKA alum in Illinois

By MIAWLING LAM

Tributes have begun to flow in for a Riverdale Kingsbridge Academy graduate whose lifeless body was found in the woods in Illinois last weekend.

Authorities say Brandon Landau, 18, was found unconscious in a creek at White Pines State Park in Mount Morris, located about 100 miles west of Chicago, on Sunday morning.

He was transported to Rockford Memorial Hospital and was pronounced dead at 12:40 p.m., according to the Winnebago County Coroner’s office.

Officials have yet to determine the cause of death. An autopsy report released on Monday was inconclusive, so authorities are now waiting on toxicology results.

Landau graduated from M.S/H.S 141 last year and was a freshman at Illinois Wesleyan University, majoring in political science.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Landau was also a member of the Sigma Pi fraternity and was attending a fraternity party at the state park on Saturday night.

RKA principal Lori O’Mara said the school was in a state of mourning following the sudden death.

“He was just a really nice kid,” she said in a telephone interview on Tuesday.

“He was immensely responsible and supportive of his friends. He had grown up in this community, so many of the students have gone from kindergarten with Brandon.”

O’Mara said Landau’s mother, who has worked at RKA as a school aide for at least 15 years, was inconsolable.

“By all accounts, she’s devastated,” she said. “This was a very close-knit family. She’s very involved in her kids’ lives. The kids are at the peak of their lives, and it’s unimaginable what she would be going through.”

Department of Education officials were on hand and provided counseling services to RKA students and faculty members on Monday.

O’Mara said the school would hold a memorial in the coming weeks so students can pay their respects.

Friends in Illinois told investigators they last saw Landau in the park at 2 a.m on Sunday. The coroner’s office said the only visible signs of trauma were superficial cuts and abrasions to his body.

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