‘I don’t need therapy.’

Ellen Hyde thought she’d be OK if she just kept looking forward.

“He’s going to pull a gun, he’s going to pull a gun,” Hyde said she thought at the time. “I was panicking, and I was trying to look forward, just look forward so I didn’t aggravate him by turning or getting involved in any way. I was shaking, I was so scared.”

It was mid-October 2017, the door was closed, and behind Hyde stood Daniel Earle. He paced the back row of their Spanish class in the Chemistry/Physics Building on UK’s campus. Earle—an almost six-foot-tall, 35-year-old, non-traditional student—had paralyzed the class with death threats. According to Hyde, near the end of class, Earle shot out of his seat and told two students in the class that they would die because they’d disrespected them, and he told the rest of the class that he’d kill them too, if they went to police.

Unbeknownst to his classmates, Earle had been banned from the Eastern Kentucky University campus two months prior, was about to be expelled from UK for the second time and was about five months away from his own death.


Shaking and sweating, Hyde said she feared for her life, but kept looking forward. The class professor tried to defuse the situation and had tried to get between Earle and the other students. Hyde felt a weight on her back; Earle had shoved their professor on her. She was terrified.

“I will kill you. I don’t care,” Hyde said Earle told the class before grabbing his backpack and leaving the room. Her professor was OK, Hyde said, but the class was stunned.

Earle was a combat veteran, a good student and a troubled man who was bent on defending his pride at all costs by retaliating against those he felt had disrespected him. In an age that is hyperaware of school security and mental health initiatives, many would say that Earle’s life was littered with red flags.

Earle died of suicide in March 2018.

For over a year, the Kernel has obtained letters, emails, court documents, police reports and university disciplinary files that detail Earle’s tenuous college career. Several of the incidents mentioned in the police reports are not included in this article. Details about Earle’s early life and military career were difficult to obtain, and those included are details that he mentioned himself.

Earle, born in Brooklyn, New York, joined the Army in 2007 at age 25. According to data from Veteran’s Affairs, court documents and statements sent to UK officials, Earle was deployed in Iraq in April 2007 and served as a military police officer in Operation Iraqi Freedom until July 2009. He spent much of his stateside career at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He was honorably discharged from the military in 2011 and enrolled at UK in 2012.

Throughout his college career, Earle wrote several times in emails and statements to the universities that he attended of a desire to become a teacher or a professor. He studied chemistry, mathematics and Spanish.

In his first year at UK, Earle won the General Chemistry Excellence award, had a 4.0 GPA, appeared on the Dean’s list and, according to UK police records, threatened to break another student’s jaw. The charges were dropped. As an undergraduate, Earle began doing research in the chemistry department and he taught chemistry as a teaching assistant. Beth Guiton, the professor who ran the lab where Earle worked, told the Kernel he was a “very promising student.”



In 2013, Earle’s supervisors became concerned with his behavior. He was put on academic probation after he screamed at another TA in front of her class of chemistry students.

“Danny did a great job as a TA last fall and had been well liked by students,” a chemistry supervisor wrote of Earle in an incident report. “This fall (he) seems to be a totally different person.”

In 2014, as he began take communications classes as electives, his behavior worried many of the staff in the College of Communications. In one class presentation, he spoke in detail about guns and gun control. He “made remarks of how he enjoyed having his weapon on him because he felt powerful and, ‘you never know if you have to blow a mother f****r’s head off,’” read one incident report, which was filed by the class professor.

Internal emails from the communications college faculty at the time show that some in the college became quite nervous about Earle coming to visit TA’s and professors in their offices. Incidents were piling up and UK student conduct officials told Earle that he’d be expelled or suspended if he had another angry outburst.

“Why the f**k are you showing us this s**t?” Earle reportedly said loudly to his female communications TA near the close of a Friday class. The class had been watching “Reel Bad Arabs,” a documentary that argues Arab people have largely been portrayed as faceless villains in Western film and pop culture. Earle took offense to the film and wanted to let his TA know. Still angry, Earle went to his TA’s office after class. He told her the film was “foolish” and that she was “indoctrinating the class.” She told him he was allowed to disagree, but he’d been disrespectful in expressing his opinion. An incident report written by the TA stated that “Daniel left very angry and I came away pretty shaken.” 

Earle would continue to email the TA and eventually apologize. The TA’s name has been redacted from the incident reports that were obtained by the Kernel. She appeared to forgive Earle. “I’m sure, given your background in the military you have a very different view of the content of the movie than l do, it appears to have triggered a more deep reaction than I anticipated, having shown the film before,” she wrote to him in an email. She recommended he utilize the campus’s veteran’s resources office.

Following the outburst over the movie, Denise Simpson, the director of student conduct at the time, had a meeting with Earle during which she told him to expect a disciplinary hearing, and she offered him a year-long suspension, disciplinary documents obtained by the Kernel show. 

Earle never showed up to his disciplinary hearing, and in his absence, the panel made a decision. He was expelled.

“I was expelled at 1704hrs yesterday by email,” Earle wrote in an email where he began an appeal of his expulsion. In the email he mentions his time in Iraq where he drove around in an armored MRAP vehicle. “I drove around in an MRAP playing russian roulette waiting to get blown up.”

He mentioned that the TA believed he had PTSD.

“I don’t need therapy,” he continued in the email, which can be confusing. “I need more patience for a foolish system that advocates that an Engineering major doubling in Spanish and veteran of the MP corp US army who was basically waiting to get blown up anyone of those days i was on patrol in a beautifully up armored MRAP needs take cis (CIS course) and watch REEL BAD ARABS.”

Earle appealed the expulsion and even hired a law office in Lexington to help him. UK administrators began receiving letters from Earle’s lawyers stating that the disciplinary system had accosted a veteran and had expelled him in a disciplinary hearing filled with procedural errors. UK officials reviewed the hearing but didn’t change their mind. In a letter from then-Dean of Students Victor Hazard, the university affirmed that he was expelled in January 2015.

Earle sent another email to UK administrators in July 2015, but this time in a very different tone.  The email addressed eight different people by name and “all faculty, staff, and students that have been offended by my actions.” The subject line reads, “Apology: Daniel Earle.”

In the opening paragraph, he apologized “first and foremost” to the female teaching assistant for his “words and behavior.”

 “Especially as a brother to younger sisters, I can see my words are painful,” the email read. “I don’t hate you and hold no resentment towards you.

“I have destroyed an academic year and academic summer. I am destroying my goal of being a professor.”


According to disciplinary documents obtained by the Kernel, Earle was referred to UK’s Veteran’s Resource Center and other campus resources several times, but never made use of them.

Tony Dotson is the director of UK’s veteran’s resource center, a UK resource devoted to helping veterans transition from the military to the college campus. He said many veterans struggle to succeed in academia, in large part because the barracks and the classroom are such different places, and because many of them don’t seek help in making the change.

He said he did not know Earle and would not comment on his death, but said he would talk about the problems veterans encounter when they go from the military to a college campus. The problem, Dotson said, is that so few veterans seek help making the leap. He estimated that only 20 percent of UK’s current 400 veterans seek help at the center. Dotson said that those who don’t come in are often the ones who need help.

“Transitioning from the military to civilian life is a culture shock all of its own, but to go from the military culture to the culture of higher education— that’s a larger leap,” he said.

Dotson added that in higher education in general, veterans are an “afterthought,” which he said is made clear by the gap in student-veteran success rates. Overall student-veteran success rates lag behind their non-veteran counterparts by as much as 20 percent. He said he blames a few different factors for their struggles.

“You can’t really tell the difference necessarily by looking at them,” he said of most veterans in college, most of whom are in their mid-twenties. “But their life experience is vastly different. So they may have a hard time relating to their fellow classmates. They may have a hard time feeling like they belong or connect here. Some struggle more than others.”

The Veterans Resource Center pre-registers incoming veterans for a transition class during their freshman year, but many veterans end up not taking it.

Dotson said the course is “loosely based” on other welcome-to-UK-type courses but, most importantly, it has veteran-specific material like a two-day discussion on veteran suicide which Dotson, who teaches the class, said usually happens just before midterms. 

In the past he said he usually waited until the end of the semester. While in the armed forces, military personnel are often “inundated” with suicide awareness training.

“I just put it off, you know I’m like, ‘they don’t want to be hit with that as soon as they come to school,’” Dotson said. “And I did that until I had my first suicide.”

The “magic of the class,” Dotson said, is not the curriculum, but that through the class, veterans can be plugged into the university and making them feel like they belong— giving them friends and connections.

“That belonging is one of things they miss out of the military because they were part of something, part of a unit, part of a team,” Dotson said. “When they get out, they realize that civilians don’t operate that way. A lot of them miss that connection— and that class serves as that connection.”

But many veterans don’t take his class, don’t seek help at the center and don’t make those necessary connections. He blames this partially on the fact that those who need help need to declare themselves as veterans to receive help.

Many student-veterans don’t do this and Dotson argues that this alienates them from the center or any other group that offers services to veterans. He said that if the university “made an effort to take care of all of our non-traditionals for example, by definition, we’d take care of all of our veterans.”



“I don’t want to speak ill of the dead,” said an Eastern Kentucky University student as she declined an interview. She worked in the EKU math tutoring center where Earle had worked after he left UK and enrolled at EKU. She said that everyone knew Earle and suggested that he had a bit of a reputation.

In fall 2016 and spring 2017, Earle was the subject of multiple calls to EKU police. All were people continuing to report his allegedly threatening and intimidating behavior. Earle twice received academic sanctions from the university.

In the fall, police were called to Earle’s dorm after his roommate told police that Earle had threatened to harm him. His roommate was moved to another dorm.

Earle wrote in an email addressed to his roommate and EKU’s administration that he was being framed after he told dorm supervisors of his roommate’s alleged habit smoking in their room. Earle wrote that he wanted his former roommate to know that he wouldn’t back down from a fight.

“I eat to fight and live to fight. Also escalation is a deeply held virtue of mine,” the email read. “…I’m not LIVING for a Mathematics degree or future pension. I will die for my pride.”

In one notable and lengthy report, EKU police interviewed, received reports and screenshotted text messages involving an incident in which Earle allegedly threatened several students in the Latino Student Association at EKU, an organization that Earle also appeared to have been involved with. 

Earle allegedly confronted students in person and made actions that “traumatized” some students. He sent long, threatening and profanity-laced text messages which addressed many members of LSA.

“If you mad come see me, if they mad tell their boyfriends brothers husbands come see me,” Earle texted, according to screenshots of the messages that were included in EKU police reports. “Let me know if y’all want to talk about fighting or some other violent s**t.”

Earle sent the message to many of the members of LSA.

“As a friend, I know you are better than that Daniel,” one LSA member responded to Earle. “That was not necessary man. I just don’t want you to get in trouble.”

The next day, EKU police received another report from a faculty member stating Earle “is escalating his threatening and violent behavior,” through messages that he was sending LSA members.

EKU asked Earle to attend a disciplinary hearing in front of an on-campus panel. Similar to what Earle experienced at UK, the panel would decide whether he broke university policy in sending the threatening texts.

The disciplinary panel, which Earle did appear for, found him guilty and gave him university probation. Earle withdrew from the university.

In August 2017, Earle was retroactively banned from EKU’s campus after he again allegedly threatened some of his former classmates, EKU police and disciplinary documents show.

“Your behavior indicates that you are a potential threat to the safety and welfare of the entire campus community and you have no reason to be on any EKU campus,” a letter written by Kenna Middleton, EKU’s dean of students, read.

The letter was sent on Aug. 24, 2017. The day before, Earle began classes at UK. The university had rescinded his expulsion after a lawyer in UK’s legal office reviewed his previous expulsion and decided that the punishment was not “appropriate” for his previous actions, a UK disciplinary document showed.


In August 2017, Ellen Hyde had three Spanish classes, and Earle was in all of them. She said he loved to participate in class and give his opinion. He spoke with a heavy New York accent. She saw him as an older man who’d gone back to get his degree and was “clearly interested in the material.”

“He was always involved in class in a positive way. He would interrupt a lot and he would say his opinion and I didn’t mind but I could see others getting annoyed,” Hyde said, adding that many students would give “dirty looks” to Earle.

In mid-October, Earle reportedly snapped, in the incident detailed at the beginning of this article. It would be Earle’s last threatening episode in a college classroom.

A UKPD police report filed after the incident alleged that Earle pointed at two students in the classroom. He accused one of the students of cheating off his test, and told them both that he would kill them and “he also mentioned that if police were to get involved, they would suffer the same.”

Earle threatened to “kill you motherf*****s” and said that he was “willing to die for my pride,” a student report from the incident stated.

In statements defending himself later, Earle said that he never threated to kill anyone in class. He said he was just wanting to defend himself against “the blatant disrespect.” He wrote in the statement that he was in school to “secure a career” and defend his “livelihood.”

“Yes, I’m very much willing to die for my pride,” Earle wrote. “I will hold firm to that till the end.”



Still reeling from the episode in class, Ellen Hyde didn’t know what to do. So she called her mom, Maureen. 

“Immediately when I heard her voice I said ‘What’s wrong? What happened?” Maureen said of the phone call she got just after the incident. “… I heard her voice, and your heart just starts pounding so hard when you hear that, when your kid talks like that.”

Maureen told her to call campus police. Ellen did. Then Ellen contacted the Office of Student Conduct, a decision that the Hyde family said they regretted. Ellen and her father, Chuck, first brought the story of Earle to the Kernel in late 2017. In that story, Ellen and her family contend that she was put in immediate danger by the university’s handling of the situation. The fear of “revenge” from Earle, changed Ellen drastically she told the Kernel in June 2018.

Despite Earle constantly denying his threatening the other students, a three-person UK hearing panel recommended that Earle be expelled. Based on Earle’s previous history, multiple witness statements from students in the class and the professor, Earle was found guilty.

“He embraces a philosophy of being that allows him to be the arbiter of acceptable and unacceptable classroom decorum for others and empowers him to use confrontation and threat of violence as a tool to demand his definition of “respect,” the hearing panel members wrote of Earle. “This outlook is antithetical to functioning in a civil society.”

Earle was arrested on Halloween and was charged with second degree terroristic threatening— a felony. He was kept in jail for about two months while he waited to receive a mental status evaluation. Court records show that a particularly explosive outburst in the courtroom had judges worried that he was a threat to society.

Earle was released on bail in January 2018 and was due back in court in March. Just after his release, a Kernel article, which recounted the alleged threats in Spanish class and prominently featured Ellen, was published and widely circulated locally.

Ellen began to be inundated by messages from people who said that they’d also been threatened by Earle. But with Earle released, her fear heightened.

“I was extremely overwhelmed with how many people reached out to me about stuff he had done,” Ellen said.  “…That just kind of added to my fear towards him.”

“They always ask could something have been done? What were the warning signs? How could we have avoided this?” Ellen said. “With this something could have been done, it’s just that nobody cares enough.”



Earle missed his March court date in Fayette County, court records show. A new warrant was issued for his arrest. A letter containing a court summons that was sent to Earle’s apartment in Louisville went unopened. It came back to the court with “Return to Sender” stamped across it.

The exact time and moment of Earle’s death is not known. He was found dead in his apartment with a gunshot wound in his head on March 29, 2018. The death certificate states that he had been dead for “day(s).” The Jefferson County Coroner ruled it a suicide.  

Multiple trips to the apartment complex by Kernel reporters yielded little information. The apartment complex managers said they knew nothing of a suicide, and a couple who lived near Earle said they never saw him.

Court records show that Earle was cremated in Kentucky and his remains were shipped back to his family members in New York. Multiple comment requests sent to Earle’s family though their lawyer and by mail have gone unanswered.

Patti Costello, a professor in the EKU math department who had worked closely with Earle, said the whole department signed a card and sent it to an address they thought belonged to Earle’s family.

In early April 2018 at the UK Day of Remembrance ceremony, Dotson, the director of UK’s Veteran’s Resource Center wrote Earle’s name on a sticky note and stuck it on a board that held the names of others in the UK community who had died in the past year.

Dotson, who is an annual attendee at the ceremony, describes it as a solemn occasion with less attendance than it deserves. He received a small blue heart pin to commemorate the occasion.

This is not the first time Dotson has received such a pin. In fact, his desk drawer at the Veterans Resource Center is full of them. Many of them he has received on behalf of veterans he knew who have died from suicide.

“Really there’s no reason for these young men and women to reach a point of hopelessness, their future— their whole future is ahead of them,” Dotson said.

Every day, 22 veterans die from suicide. Dotson said that like in so many other veteran suicides, he never knew Earle.

“I never saw Dan—not once,” Dotson said. “That’s the issue. That’s the problem.”