Mother determined to find out why son died in dorm room

By Janice Broach - bio | email

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - The mother of 18-year-old Joseph Liner wants answers.

"I just don't understand, and I want to be able to understand what happened to my son."

Linda Liner will never forget the events leading up to her son's death in his dorm room.  Joseph Liner, a second year Biomedical Engineering student at the University of Memphis, planned to leave December 27 with friends to go to a campus ministry conference in Nashville.

"Sunday morning, I went by the dorm to give him a leather jacket I had purchased so he could look really nice on his trip," Linda said.  "He was so excited about going."

Linda Liner had breakfast with her son, but never heard from him again - something very unlike him.

"12 o'clock response," she said. "I started calling his cell phone, response."

After repeated attempts to reach her son, she called the Nashville hotel around 11 o'clock that night.  His friends said he never answered the door when they knocked around noon, so they left him.

Panicked, she went to the dorm and asked someone to check her son's room.  Inside, they found his body.

"That's when everything spiraled out of control," she said. "What amounts to about the worst day of my life."

Liner said no one would let her inside the room or tell her if it was her son.

"'This has to be somebody else not my son.' I walked around saying that," she said.

The next day, she had to go to the morgue to identify her son's body.  She had questions after the autopsy and the police investigation, which said Joseph Liner was locked in the bathroom that can only be locked and unlocked from the outside.

He had crawled through the ceiling to get out and apparently was electrocuted.

His mother wants to know how that could happen, but says no one is telling her.

"I have an angry 14-year-old who does not understand what happened to his brother," she said. "I have an angry 14-year-old that wants to know. I want to know."

Joseph Liner's dorm room was sealed off after his body was removed.

Linda Liner has hired attorney Leslie Ballin to help her get answers. School officials will let her inside her son's room with Ballin's investigators this week for the first time since her son's death.

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