Thomas Sowell

The story that the media seemed so certain was true last year looks less and less likely as the various pieces of evidence are examined in this book. Even the official ruling of suicide is called into question -- and the slipshod police investigation even more so. Since Lissa Roche's body was cremated within hours of her death, we may never know the whole story.

What we do know is that a man's reputation has been ruined and a college smeared on the basis of unsubstantiated allegations. That is a second tragedy for Hillsdale College, where applications have declined. It is perhaps even more of a tragedy for those parents and students who are looking for a place with fine academic standards and a commitment to traditional values, because Hillsdale remains such a place -- and there are not too many others.

As one of those who knew Lissa Roche and was pained and shocked by her death, I went over the police report in detail last year with my wife, an attorney. No matter who we assumed was telling the truth or who we assumed was lying, the story just did not add up. There were obviously big missing pieces.

This new book provides some of those missing pieces. It details the personal and family problems plaguing Lissa Roche, the personal frictions within the extended Roche family and the dire and intractable medical problems complicating matters still more. It was an explosive mixture that apparently blew up.

Exactly how we may never know. But we do know that George Roche III was nowhere near where Lissa died. Incidentally, Dr. Roche's former wife refuses to believe the allegations of an affair between him and Lissa -- and ex-wives are not always charitable. Maybe the rest of us ought to hold off as well -- and not scapegoat Hillsdale. It's a small college, but there are those who love it.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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