WACO, Texas – Carlton Dotson (search) turned to friend Patrick Dennehy (search) several weeks ago after he lost his Baylor University (search) basketball scholarship, his brief marriage fell apart and he needed a place to live, family members said.
"They were friendly teammates and recently had become closer as friends," Dennehy's girlfriend, Jessica De La Rosa (search), said Wednesday.
That's what makes the news of the past few days so inconceivable to those who knew the young men.
Dennehy, 21, was reported missing by his family on June 19, after he failed to call home four days earlier on Father's Day. His car was found last week in a mall parking lot in Virginia Beach, Va., where he had no apparent connections.
Police classify Dotson, believed to be 21, as "a person of interest" in Dennehy's disappearance.
According to court documents, an unnamed informant in Delaware told police that Dotson told a relative he shot Dennehy in the head after the two argued while shooting guns on a farm outside Waco.
No body has been found and no one has been arrested.
De La Rosa, of Albuquerque, N.M., said to her knowledge the two friends had not had a falling out. She last talked to Dennehy on June 11, and she called Dotson a few days later when she hadn't heard from Dennehy to see if Dotson knew his whereabouts.
"It's very confusing. I'm just going to try to not speculate anymore. I'm going to try to be patient and let these detectives and investigators do their work," she said. "I could drive myself crazy with everything that's flying around."
Authorities said Wednesday they were investigating hundreds of leads received over the past few days.
"Somebody out there knows what happened to him or they know where he is," Waco police spokesman Steve Anderson said. "We're hoping that person or persons will call in and give us that good tip."
Anderson said police still don't know how Dennehy's 1996 Chevrolet Tahoe ended up in Virginia with its license plate missing.
A friend, Daniel Okopnyi, said Dennehy was worried about threats to Dotson by two of their teammates. He said when he last talked to Dennehy on June 14, he "sounded extremely paranoid." He said the pair had armed themselves for protection.
Worried, Okopnyi said he urged Dennehy to stay with him in Fort Worth but he refused, saying he had to protect Dotson. "He said, 'I've got Dotty's back,"' Okopnyi told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday.
Dennehy then changed his mind, saying on June 14 he would come to Fort Worth and bring Dotson, Okopnyi said. He said Dotson had a shotgun for protection, but the two were "trying to trade it in for two handguns," he said.
That was the last contact anyone has publicly reported having with Dennehy.
According to school records, Dotson and Dennehy both arrived in Waco last summer on basketball scholarships. Dotson married his longtime girlfriend, Melissa Kethley, and the two moved into an apartment near campus.
By the time the hoops season came to a close, Dotson's playing time had steadily decreased, and he and Baylor coach Dave Bliss agreed that Dotson should play elsewhere and his scholarship was dropped.
About the same time, Dotson's wife sought a divorce after eight months of marriage.
On Wednesday, Coach Dave Bliss released a statement saying Dennehy never reported to his coaching staff "anything about safety concerns or personal threats."
Kethley, 21, told the Waco Tribune-Herald on Wednesday that she last spoke with Dotson on Tuesday, and he told her he had nothing to do with Dennehy's disappearance.
"They were friends. I don't see any reason why he would kill him," Kethley said from the Sulphur Springs home of her parents. "They were together every single day. They lived together."
Chris Waters, a cousin, said Dotson is in his hometown of Hurlock, Md., and hasn't been contacted by investigators since last week.
He said the media attention, not questions from police, caused the family to hire Grady Irvin Jr., a Florida attorney who represents athletes.
"I know how I would feel, looking at all this around," Waters said, gesturing toward the throng of reporters camped outside the family's modest frame home in the small coastal town. "I would get a lawyer. Wouldn't you?"
Irvin said the Dotson family called him Monday and he flew to Baltimore to meet with them. He wouldn't discuss what Dotson told him.
"This is a difficult time for the Dennehy family, the Dotson family and everyone who cares for Patrick and Carlton," Irvin said.