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Bluegrass Blues
William F. Reed
October 17, 1994
It has been a grim year at Kentucky, where a player was murdered and the coach's wife threatened
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October 17, 1994

Bluegrass Blues

It has been a grim year at Kentucky, where a player was murdered and the coach's wife threatened

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When practice began in August, Curry noticed a distinct somberness among his players. Once he even stopped practice so he could talk to them about dealing with their grief. He then decided not to bring it up again be cause almost every player had already shared their tears and fears during sessions with Sprague and other counselors the school brought in. "Everybody has done a lot of soul-searching about a lot of things," Sprague says. "It [the death of a teammate] can have a cumulative effect on how people view life, sport and how they perform."

The parents of one player were so distraught that Curry had to convince them it was safe for their son to practice. They were worried that a madman might be bent on killing football players.

The players pulled themselves together enough to grind out an opening 20-14 victory over Louisville on Sept. 3. Afterward Curry walked into the locker room with three game balls, which would be distributed to the families of DiGiuro, Presley and Troy Trumbo, a Kentucky baseball player who died last summer after a rare reaction to medications he was taking for back pain and a cold. But before Curry could say a word, O'Ferral jumped onto a bench and asked for his teammates' attention. "How about a moment of silence," O'Ferral said, "for my man T.D." And with that the players dissolved. It was a catharsis, the first time they had been able to grieve together. "I've never heard such sobbing in my life," Curry says. "Some of them were on the floor, crying unashamedly."

Following a recent practice, Curry, an introspective and religious man, sat in the lobby of the team's training facility, near where one of DiGiuro's number 67 jerseys is enshrined in a display case. "I know it's changed me," he says of the murder. "I remember being at the funeral and seeing all those big shoulders as they stared at the casket. At that moment they were dealing with their own mortality for the first time. I'm sure there's still something in there, inside the team, but I don't understand it, and I don't know if it's had anything to do with our performance."

A few days later the Wildcats were crushed by Auburn. Soon thereafter the death threat was made against Curry's wife.

The murderer of Trent DiGiuro is still at large. The police seem to have no leads. They are seeking to question four males who apparently had pulled up to the house earlier in the evening in what was thought to be a late-model Nissan truck. About 20 minutes before the shooting the same group stopped again in front of the house and, police say, DiGiuro went out to talk to them briefly before they drove away. However, according to Mann, the friend nearest DiGiuro when the shooting occurred, "The story about a truck doesn't hold any weight—there wasn't any trouble." Mann says the truck did not stop the second time it passed the house, and that DiGiuro never left the porch.

Lexington police chief Larry Walsh says evidence indicates that the slaying was the work of a skilled marksman, though not necessarily a hired assassin. "Somebody really knew what they were doing," he says. The gun that killed DiGiuro has not been recovered. From their analysis of the wound and the victim's position, investigators theorize that the shot came from a rifle, probably from 100 yards away.

But why would somebody want to kill Trent DiGiuro? Could he have been involved in some unsavory situation? So far, Walsh says, police have been unable to find a motive. They have found no evidence that DiGiuro was involved with drugs or that he had any gambling debts. They have also checked out the victims of DiGiuro's earlier rampage and ruled out revenge as a motive. In the wake of the murder the campus and the community have been awash in rumors. Could the target have been somebody else? One of DiGiuro's housemates, quarterback Jeff Speedy, is the son of a Secret Service agent, so some have wondered, Could Speedy have been the target? Did somebody in DiGiuro's family have an enemy angry enough to take out his rage on Trent? The police have found nothing to substantiate any such notions.

The mystery haunts the players. Says senior offensive tackle Mark Askin, who played beside DiGiuro in the line and was a pallbearer at the funeral, "When you think about it, it gets to you. There was no reason for his death." But if someone indeed took careful aim and delivered the deadly shot, there was a reason, bizarre as it may have been and inexplicable as it remains. Early on, the police ruled out the possibility of a drive-by shooting. This, they say, was cold-blooded murder.

The blue house at 570 Woodland Avenue has new tenants. Every day hundreds of students go past it on their way to class. Some glance at it, most don't. "For a while I wasn't able to drive by that house," O'Ferral said. "Now I kind of turn my head and keep on going. It's awfully hard to drive by and not see Trent sitting there."

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