Monday, Jun 30, 2003, 3:20 pm EST

Friends, Cops Fear for Missing Baylor Athlete
Associated Press

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WACO, Texas The FBI and sheriff`s department joined the search for a Baylor basketball player who hasn`t been heard from in two weeks, fueling fears among teammates and friends that the center with NBA dreams may be dead.


AP Photo
Police suspect Patrick James Dennehy, 21, was killed in the Waco area. His sport utility vehicle, its license plates missing, was found abandoned in a mall parking lot in Virginia last week.

A former roommate and longtime friend in Albuquerque, N.M., Senque Carey, said Dennehy had never been the sort to disappear for days on end without calling someone, or the sort to put himself in danger.

"I just remember Pat as being always to himself. He wasn`t like a person who would cause trouble for no reason," said Carey, who played basketball with Dennehy on the University of New Mexico team before Dennehy transferred to Baylor his junior year.

Waco police say Dennehy`s teammates and others have been questioned about the disappearance of the 6-foot-10, 230-pound center, a junior speech communications major from Santa Clara, Calif. Police declined to comment Sunday, saying a news conference was planned for Monday afternoon.

Rene Salinas, a spokesman in the FBI`s San Antonio office, said Sunday that the FBI was helping Waco police in the investigation. He declined to comment further.

The McLennan County Sheriff`s Department is also helping the police, Chief Deputy Randy Plemons said Monday. He would not specify what deputies have done but said they "are not looking at any particular site" for a body.

John Cunningham, a speech communications professor at the Waco university, said Dennehy was working on an independent study project for his class this summer.

He said Dennehy was a "solid B student" who dreamed of playing for the NBA and then working in public relations for his favorite team, the Sacramento Kings.

"It`s been unbelievably hard," Cunningham said Sunday. "Right now, the hardest part is not knowing. We`re trying to stay positive, but it`s been hard as more time passes."

Dennehy often sat in the front row so he could concentrate and didn`t talk much before or after class to his teammates, who sat in the back, Cunningham said. But the professor said he was surprised about reports that basketball players may be suspects.

"I`ve taught those guys, and there`s no way in my mind that any of them are capable of doing anything like that," Cunningham said.

Dennehy`s stepfather, Brian Brabazon, told the Waco Tribune-Herald someone had recently stolen money from his stepson and Dennehy had told Baylor coaches he was scared.

Waco police apparently are investigating reports that Dennehy was threatened by a teammate and that he had recently argued with at least two players, the newspaper reported.

Men`s basketball coach Dave Bliss did not immediately return telephone calls Sunday to The Associated Press. In a news conference Saturday, Bliss said the campus was "in tremendous disbelief" and that players have cooperated with police.

Dennehy`s girlfriend in Albuquerque, 20-year-old Jessica De La Rosa, said Sunday she last spoke with him the night of June 11.

"It was a typical conversation," she said. "He was just fine. He told me he just needed to go and would call me the next day."

De La Rosa and Dennehy communicated frequently by phone after he transferred to Baylor. Asked if Dennehy was concerned about his safety, or had problems with teammates or others, De La Rosa said: "I can`t say anything about any problems because that`s part of the investigation right now