Joey Hanzich LAW ’10 found dead in apartment Thursday

(See a slideshow commemoration of Joey Hanzich’s life.)

Joseph “Joey” Hanzich LAW ’10 was found dead in his apartment Thursday, apparently from natural causes.

In an address to all Yale Law School faculty and students Friday afternoon, Yale Law School Dean Harold Koh called Hanzich’s passing a “terrible loss” and asked the audience to “draw on our sense of community” for comfort. He said Hanzich’s passing appeared to be free of foul play.

“From what we know at this point, we only have reason to believe he died of natural causes,” Koh said before adding that at this time, there are “many more questions than we have answers.”

In an e-mail Friday afternoon to the Law School community, Koh recounted Hanzich’s many achievements and service, from winning a U.S. Presidential Scholar award in high school before attending Harvard to traveling to Santiago, Chile to work for the Chilean National Health Care Fund.

“He used his fluency in Spanish to provide translation services to the poor in Harvard Law School’s legal services clinic, and he volunteered in nursing homes, providing music and entertainment to the elderly,” Koh wrote. “Joey Hanzich did so much with his life; he would have done so much more. He was a gifted and wonderful young man. How privileged we were to have him with us, even for such a short time.”

Janet Conroy, director of the Yale Law School’s Office of Public Affairs, said she was unaware of any police investigations into Hanzich’s death.

Yale Police Sgt. Steven Woznyk said he could not comment on the death since it took place under the jurisdiction of the New Haven Police Department. City Hall and NHPD Spokeswoman Jessica Mayorga said police records did not show any major incidents involving Yale students on Thursday.

As students filtered out of the meeting — Hanzich’s smiling portrait still projected on the screen in the auditorium — Yale staff handed them fliers with psychological resources that had been made available by the University. They then streamed into the hallways in small throngs. Some professors roamed the corridors to comfort visibly upset students. Fliers announcing that classes were cancelled Friday were posted on doors.

Some law school students remained in the auditorium even as others had left, starring at Hanzich’s photograph and perhaps remembering what they had come to know about him over the past week. In an email, Lauren Pardee LAW ’10 said he made “quite an impression” in a “very short time.”

“We met during admit weekend, and his warm smile made me feel like we had become instant friends,” she said. “We signed our housing leases on the same day, and during that process he met my parents. They only talked to him for several minutes, but afterwards they told me how sweet and intelligent they found him to be and how glad they were that he and I would be attending the same school.”

Hanzich graduated as a U.S. Presidential Scholar and valedictorian from Mission Viejo High School in Southern California, earning a spot on the 2002 All-USA High School Academic Team. As an undergraduate at Harvard, Hanzich received recognition as a John Harvard Scholar, a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the recipient of the Detur Book Price.

Outside of the classroom, Hanzich was involved in Democratic causes, serving as vice president of the Harvard College Democrats and working on John Kerry’s ’66 presidential campaign. Last year, Hanzich studied one of his passions, health care policy, at the University of Cambridge on the Governor William Shirley Scholarship.

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