The Best of Friends: They Were Teammates, Roommates, Almost as Close as Brothers. Suddenly One Goes Missing and the Other Is Charged with Murder

By Miller, Mark; Johnson, Dirk | Newsweek, August 4, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Best of Friends: They Were Teammates, Roommates, Almost as Close as Brothers. Suddenly One Goes Missing and the Other Is Charged with Murder


Miller, Mark, Johnson, Dirk, Newsweek


Byline: Mark Miller and Dirk Johnson

Big dudes on campus, Patrick Dennehy and Carlton Dotson didn't hang much with the other basketball players at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. Usually, it was just the two of them. "They were always together," says LaDonna Nelson, a Baylor student and neighbor. "If one was going to eat, the other one was, too." On Memorial Day, they celebrated Dotson's birthday by staying home and grilling steaks. Nelson once asked them why they didn't socialize with the other players. "This is the person I trust the most," Dotson told her. "This is the person who has my back." Dennehy agreed. "We're tight. He's like a brother to me."

But they showed some weird behavior at times. They bought three pit bulls for their little apartment. And they bought guns--opening the door only when armed. Relatives and friends said they seemed paranoid. Dotson spoke to his estranged wife of getting phone calls and hearing someone cock a gun, sometimes even fire it. Then around June 12, Dennehy vanished. Two weeks later his blue Chevy Tahoe was found in a parking lot in Virginia Beach, Va., its license plates removed. On Saturday, police found Dennehy's body in a grassy area near an entranceway to a gravel pit outside Waco. Police last week arrested his pal, Dotson, and charged him with murder. Dotson had called 911 on Sunday in Maryland and asked for psychiatric help. Relatives say he had been walking around the house with --an open Bible reciting prayers. Police took him to a hospital for the night. The next day, according to a police affidavit, Dotson confessed to killing Dennehy while the two were shooting at targets outside Waco for fun. Police say Dotson said the two had argued, and that Dennehy had pointed a gun at him. But Dotson insists he told the cops no such thing. "I didn't confess to anything," he told a reporter after his arraignment on Monday. "I didn't do anything." But sources close to the investigation say it was Dotson's confession that led them to the pit where, NEWSWEEK has learned, they earlier in the week had found shell cases.

The bizarre case has shaken Baylor, a straitlaced Baptist college where the two players had transferred from other schools. At 6-foot-10, Dennehy had all the makings of a star forward, a powerhouse who was expected to carry Baylor to a higher level of basketball. Off the court, he was a loner. A solid B student at the University of New Mexico before moving on the Baylor, he liked to write poetry. Sometimes he painted his fingernails black. He occasionally displayed an explosive temper. He left the team at the UNM last year after feuding with other players and coaches. During one game, he shoved a teammate, kicked over a chair and then stormed off the court. …

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