Frostburg student fatally stabbed at off-campus party

It was a church service at which Baltimore's Kortneigh McCoy, a 19-year-old Frostburg State University physics major known for her lovely voice, was supposed to sing.

But instead, more than 500 students and faculty jammed the Lane University Center Sunday afternoon to mourn her death.


Hours earlier, the Baltimore Polytechnic Institute graduate was fatally stabbed after a fight at an off-campus house party, police said. Police said officers arrived at about 1:30 a.m. to find her bleeding to death in the street outside the house from a wound to the head. She was declared dead at Western Maryland Hospital, police reported.

Arrested and charged with both first- and second-degree murder was Shanee Liggins, a 23-year-old senior business major from Waldorf. Liggins was ordered held without bail during a hearing Monday at the Allegany District Courthouse in Cumberland. She appeared briefly via a monitor in the courtroom. Her attorney, public defender James Malone, told the judge that he would ask for a new bail hearing after talking with his client later this week.

University officials said the party, which patrons paid money to attend, took place at Liggins' home on Maple Street in Frostburg.

A fight started in the kitchen during the party. According to charging documents filed by police in district court, witnesses told detectives that the suspect pulled a knife on a man "because she thought he would not get out of her way."

Liggins was asked to take the fight outside, according to witnesses, and that is when, the witnesses told police, she and McCoy crossed paths and began fighting. One witness said she saw McCoy and the suspect "swing at each other at the same time."

Another witness told police that she saw both the victim and suspect strike at each other, then saw McCoy laying on the ground with "the female who had the knife hitting her in a stabbing motion with her right hand."

A man took the knife away and threw it under a car "where nobody could get to it," according to the documents.

McCoy had a cut on the left side of her head and a three-inch stab wound on the front left side of her neck.


The suspect at first told police that someone else stabbed the victim. But detectives later identified the suspect as Liggins with testimony from witnesses interviewed at the hospitals and from a Facebook picture that witnesses showed police.

A couple who identified themselves as the suspect's parents attended Liggins' bail review hearing Monday. They disappeared with Malone, the attorney, into a conference room for about 45 minutes. When they emerged, the man took his wife's hand and said, "We are trying to get our minds around the facts."

At a campus press conference Monday afternoon, Frostburg President Jonathan Gibralter said he'd spoken to students, faculty, parents and alumni and "they are angry about what has happened. I am angry too."

"For five years we have worked hard to create a safe environment and despite our best efforts, we have had two violent deaths in the past two years," he said, referring to a killing in April 2010 that occurred after a fight at an off-campus party.

Binge drinking is at a six-year low, Gibralter added.

Thomas Bowling, vice president for student education, said he visited McCoy's parents and friends at the hospital and said the victim's mother "in the midst of her own unspeakable grief, what she was most interested in was focusing on her daughter's friends." Bowling went on to describe how McCoy's mother hugged each of her daughter's 20 friends who were in the emergency room when she found out her daughter had died.


McCoy was a member of the United Voices Under God's Dominion, a student gospel choir, and was scheduled to sing as part of the group's regular Sunday worship.

"I heard her singing in the cafeteria," said Devin James, a senior who is president of the United Voices. "I invited her to join us [last year] and she's been with us ever since."

Friends created a Facebook page and announced that they would gather to mourn McCoy, who had expressed interest in becoming a doctor.

Liz Medcalf, a spokesman for Frostburg State University, said the Lane University Center was filled to capacity. Television crews from Washington and Baltimore were among the crowd.

Eyewitnesses who posted on social media sites suggested that McCoy had attempted to break up a fight.

"Kortneigh was a peacemaker and she emphasized the need for friendships with God and with others," James told the press.

In addressing the media, the Frostburg State University president stressed that Frostburg was a safe environment for students and that McCoy's death was an anomaly.

"We do whatever we can to try to educate young people about how to manage conflict in an appropriate way, using their words," he said. "Unfortunately, we don't always have control over where they are and what they do. This is still a very safe community to live in and for people to send their children to."

McCoy was a resident assistant in Simpson Hall, a freshman dorm. Gibralter said she was known as a campus leader who attempted to make learning fun for her charges.

McCoy spent last summer working as a sales associate at Victoria's Secret in Towson Town Center Mall. Employees at the store were shocked to learn Sunday of her death.

"Kortneigh was just an amazing person," said store manager Lynda Burton. "We were looking forward to her returning for Black Friday and over the holiday."

The fatal stabbing of a Maryland college student was the second such incident in two months: In September, Bowie State University student Dominique T. Frazier, 18, was fatally stabbed. Her dormitory mate, Alexis D. Simpson, 19, has been charged in connection with the death.

Frostburg also was the site of a student-on-student killing in April 2010 that occurred after a fight at an off-campus party. Tyrone Hall of Glen Burnie opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun, striking two fellow students in the abdomen. Twenty-year-old Brandon Carroll of Waldorf died; the other student survived. Hall was sentenced to a five-year prison sentence in November 2010.

In August, 22-year-old Derek Sheely of Germantown — a Frostburg honors student and a captain of the football team — died after suffering a head injury during practice.

At McCoy's memorial service, university representatives spoke of their grief at having to gather again so soon to mourn a student.

Baltimore Sun reporters Peter Hermann, John-John Williams IV and Luke Broadwater contributed to this article.