Virginia Tech sophomore Dieter Seltzer was entertaining ideas for the future Monday night as the free-thinking philosophy major sought to chart a course toward political and academic achievement.
But the next day, Michael Seltzer found his son Dieter lying on the floor of their Manassas, Va., home. Police investigation and an autopsy by Prince William County officials have not determined what caused Dieter’s death. Family members said Thursday that Dieter had been openly seeking treatment for depression, but police have assured them the death was almost certainly not a suicide.
“The detectives are 99.9 percent sure it was not suicide,” Michael said. “There is no evidence to suggest that he took his own life.”
Related: A letter by Dieter Seltzer
Dieter was found in a small hallway outside the family’s kitchen. A small abrasion on his head indicated he fell down or passed out, but Michael said the fall would not have been enough to contribute to his death.
“He was lying down on the floor on his back, and he looked really peaceful. He had his legs crossed, like he was resting,” Michael said.
Michael speculated that his son most likely died as a result of a drug reaction that aggravated an unknown existing health condition or caused averse effects in combination with another drug. He said Dieter had seen a doctor three times in the past month.
“It wasn’t intentional,” he said. “He wasn’t trying to kill himself. He was just trying to feel better.”
A final determination will depend on toxicology reports and other tests that could take weeks to complete.
Dieter had been at home in Manassas since January. He decided to take the remainder of the current semester off to deal with depression that had been worsened by a series of recent events, including the sudden departure of his stepmother.
“A whole bunch of things happened at the same time,” Michael said. “My wife left in August — just abandoned the marriage, the family. That was kind of hard on everyone.”
Gabi Seltzer, Dieter’s sister and a Tech senior philosophy major, said her brother was particularly affected by the separation from their younger half-brother.
“When she left our family, she moved to Alabama,” Gabi said. “And with her, she took our 11-year-old brother. They had always shared a room together, and they had been very close. He wanted very much to mentor our younger brother, Paul. So even though he didn’t show it, I think it was very difficult on him.”
Gabi said Dieter became noticeably distressed, but was taking time to correct the issue.