It was close to three in the morning last February 7 when Clint Hart walked into the Tau Kappa Epsilon house near the campus of Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos. The TKE bid-night party had broken up a couple of hours earlier, and the house now appeared to be empty. The beer had flowed freely at the party, which capped the day when rushees learn whether or not they have been invited to join a fraternity or sorority. To keep the high-spirited night going a little bit longer, Clint, a member of TKE (pronounced “teek”), planned to fetch some leftover beer to share with friends at another house.
Entering the dilapidated, trashed two-story building on Academy Street, he was as surprised to see the other people in the frat house as they were to see him. There were two of them, and they didn’t look like frat boys. One was tall and skinny, with longish hair and an earring, and he wore a baseball cap backward and a white shirt. The other, shorter and stockier, with a crew cut and a brooding scowl, had on a black shirt with the logo of the metal group Pantera. The only light was in the next room, and it was shining on someone who was asleep on the couch—Nick Armstrong, one of the new TKE pledges. Clint watched Nick lying there peacefully as he apprehensively made conversation with the strangers. He had a bad feeling about these guys. Instinct told Clint that there was something to fear, so he acted as if he too were a trespasser. “What are you guys up to here? You guys here