"FOURTEEN months have passed since Michael Pohle's oldest son was gunned down in the Virginia Tech massacre.
"More than a year of unimaginable grief and pain. And now - improbably - something worse.
The university has profited handsomely from the deaths of 32 innocents, the father believes. All were slaughtered by Seung-Hui Cho, a known maniac to whom Virginia Tech honchos gave carte blanche to roam the campus.
But while families were grieving, the university was padding its bottom line. This is the discovery of Pohle and other parents, who held funerals when they should have celebrated graduations.
"This just makes us furious," said Pohle, who lives in Flemington, NJ. "I'm absolutely convinced in my heart that a well-orchestrated plan was going on."
In the days following the death of Michael Pohle Jr., the father learned his boy teamed up with Derek O'Dell. As I reported last year, they used their bodies to block the door to prevent the madman from re-entering their class. O'Dell survived. Michael Jr. did not.
Still in a state of shock, Pohle, as well as most families who lost loved ones on April 16, 2007, - which some consider Virginia's 9/11 - were pressured to partake in two financial giveaways. First, Virginia Tech handed out some $8 million donated by generous citizens. The average family got about $208,000.
Earlier this month, the state of Virginia gave out about $100,000 apiece. Pohle said he agreed to it only because the settlement guaranteed medical care to the gravely injured.
But now that the university has moved on, Pohle has learned the college has been raking it in.
On Oct. 20, 2007, six months after blood soaked the campus, Virginia Tech quietly held a gala black-tie fund-raiser.
All told, Virginia Tech raised some $111 million in the seven months following the massacre - compared with less than $40 million annually in the five years before.
"There's no question that huge jump in donations was as a result of that tragedy," said Peter Grenier, a lawyer who helped negotiate the Virginia settlement.
Virginia Tech acknowledges fund-raising is up, but denies the college asked for it.
"In light of the tragedy that occurred, many people turned their attention to Virginia Tech," said col lege spokesman Mark Owczarski. "Virginia Tech has never and will never solicit funds in terms of leveraging the tragedy in any way, shape or form."
What disturbs Pohle is the abrupt way the college stopped earmarking money for the families, who had until Sept. 15 to apply for money.
Within weeks, Tech held its gala.
"What I am questioning is, what level of planning went into this? We hadn't even had the one-year anniversary!"
Pohle insists he's not looking for more money. He wants answers.
Only then will a family who lost their beloved son find peace."
VT raked in what amounted to a $71 million dollar sympathy-windfall, then played pauper when it came to making restitution to the families of those slaughtered by their pet korean nutcase.
Higher learning has never been so low.