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Death shocks companions

Nov. 15, 2006

Staff writer

Late at night, with a telescope under his arm, Oklahoma City junior Adam Todd would settle down in a vacant field with hopes of catching a glimpse of a mysterious comet or new-born star.

"He was close to having a few stars be named after him," Tyler senior Eric Perez said. "Adam loved astronomy and space."

Dr. Darrin Bellert, chemistry professor, called Todd a "telescope nut."

"He had a deep appreciation and thrill for space," Bellert said. "He would come in and say Jupiter is high now or in the morning sky. Or we talked about the fact that Saturn was in the northeast sky at a certain time."

After Todd had filled Bellert in on the location of a certain planet, Bellert remembers going home and looking into the telescope with his kids.

"We would usually find these planets because Adam told me where to look," Bellert said.

Todd, 22, was found dead in his apartment Saturday, said Waco Police Department spokesman Steve Anderson. Todd lived in the LL Sams Historical Lofts apartment complex.

Autopsy results are still pending and may take a long time, Waco Police Detective Andy Degnan said.

"It (the case) is still ongoing, and it is undetermined of how he passed," Degnan said.

While eating lunch with his dad and nephew, Perez said he received a call from a friend about Todd's death.

"I had this really bad adrenaline rush though my body," Perez said. "I kept asking for confirmation from my friend: 'Are you sure? Are you sure?'"

Since Perez was Todd's best friend and friends with his family, he said he was forced to quickly "come to reality and deal with all this."

"I was there for him," Perez said. "I guess that was not enough."

Perez met Todd at Chapel in fall 2003, and soon after they became best friends.

"He was a bit of a recluse at times," Perez said. "It was just a guy probably too smart for his own good. He was above and beyond the bell curve. We never got to see the potential he could have fulfilled."

Todd had a "handful" of good friends at Baylor, Perez said.

"He was extremely unique," Perez said. "It is a shame that he didn't, I guess, thrive in this environment. Maybe in another environment he would have. It was a shame more people didn't get to know him. He may have come off as awkward in social engagements, but that was how unique he was."

Todd made candles from scratch, cooked delicious dinners for his friends, took professional quality photographs, went to art shows, listened to Sublime and loved the state of Oklahoma, Perez said.

"He was a gentle person and was not violent at all," Perez said. "He respected religion and faith; though, he really resented people who used religion as an excuse to hurt people. He was very emotionally intelligent and a good person to talk to when you had a problem."

Todd, a biochemistry major, aspired to be a research scientist or a general physician upon graduation, Perez said.

"He took his mind off of whatever was on his mind when he was in lab playing with test tubes and chemicals," Perez said. "He wanted to understand how the world worked."

Perez said Todd was very intelligent.

"He did organic chemistry and would ramble about stuff like that hoping to spark interest in someone else," Perez said.

Todd's voice is the thing Perez said he will miss most.

"Whenever I am talking to a friend who knew him I feel like he should be there saying something that was typical of him: outlandish and funny."

In an email interview, Interim Chaplain Byron Weathersbee said, "Humanly speaking, I am honest to say that I struggle with the why's."

"I am saddened about the death of Adam Todd," he said. "My heart goes out to Adam's family during such a tough, tough time. The Baylor family always hurts when one of our students dies. Death is a difficult thing to grasp for the human mind on this side, but as Christ followers our hope is in eternity with God forever and ever and ever."

"It is a shame people didn't understand him because he understood people," Perez said.

"He was a very understanding person, was never quick to judge and knew no one was perfect."