Law Student Found Dead In Apartment

A first-year law student was found dead of unknown causes in his Boston apartment yesterday evening.

The body of 24-year-old David Shelton '80 was taken to Southern Mortuary, where he was pronounced dead at about 8 p.m., a mortuary attendant said late last night.

Senior mortuary attendant Steven Adams said that Shelton may have committed suicide and that the medical examiner's office may investigate the death today.

James Vorenberg '49, dean of the Law School, confirmed Shelton's death late last night, as did Mary D. Upton, the Law School's dean of students. Both said they were unaware of the cause of death or who discovered Shelton's body. "We really don't know very much right now," Upton said.

Upton said Vorenberg--who notified her of the death at about 8:30 p.m.--spoke with Shelton's parents after the student was found in his 71 Symphony Road apartment, where he apparently lived alone. Shelton is the first Law School student to die in three or four years, she added.

Several friends and professors of the New York-raised Shelton expressed shock last night when told of his death, though one friend said rumors had swept Langdell Library late last night that Shelton had died in an apparent suicide.

"He was a person who I think brought some special background, special concerns, and special talents to the school." Frank E. Michelman, the professor of Law who taught Shelton's contract law course last term, said late last night.

and Marc Wolpow, a high school friend of Shelton's and a fellow first-year student, called him "probably one of the most capable and impressive individuals I have known," singling out Shelton's long-time activity in labor organization. "That was what he prided himself in--it was his raison d'etre," Wolpow added.

He also lauded Shelton for balancing his labor activism and his daily work as a cab driver with his academic work as an undergraduate: "He was the kind of person who worked 80 or 90 hours a week...I think he handled [Law School pressure] with more aplomb because he was brilliant."

Shelton was married for several years but was divorced recently, Wolpow said.

Harvard and Cambridge police spokesman said late last night that they were unaware of the death, as did Preston K. Munter, director of the Law School Health Services.

Dr. Warren E.C. Wacker, director of University Health Services, said late last night that he had not been informed of Shelton's death.

If Shelton did take his own life, Wacker said, that would bring the number of Harvard student suicides over the last decade to 15, the most recent one being that of a graduate student over Christmas recess. Seven of the suicides have involved undergraduates and seven have been graduate students, he added