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Professor Cotton's death investigated

Professor Cotton's death investigated

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Detectives on Tuesday continued to investigate what they described as the "suspicious" death of a 76-year-old distinguished professor at Texas A&M buried almost two months ago.

F. Albert Cotton died Feb. 20 after being hospitalized since mid-October following what his family thought was a heart attack, according to Chief Deputy Jim Mann of the Brazos County Sheriff's Department.

Cotton had been in a coma since being admitted to St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Bryan, Mann said, adding that he did not know the cause of Cotton's death.

Mann said hospital officials contacted the sheriff's office when Cotton was admitted in October to report injuries "that weren't necessarily consistent with a heart attack."

Mann would not describe the injuries or say if they contributed to Cotton's death, saying the inquiry was ongoing. He also would not say if the injuries were external or internal, or if sheriff's officials think a crime was committed.

"We don't think it was any kind of elderly abuse because he was in good health," Mann said, adding that sheriff's officials had been monitoring Cotton's condition throughout his hospital stay.

The sheriff's office has been investigating the cause of Cotton's injuries since he was admitted to the hospital, Mann said.

Cotton's wife, Diane, declined to comment Tuesday because the investigation is pending.

Cotton began working at Texas A&M in 1972, and won more awards than any faculty member in Texas A&M history, according to university officials. He was the W.T. Doherty-Welch Foundation Chair in Chemistry and director of the Laboratory for Molecular Structure and Bonding at the university.

The distinguished professor also won the National Medal of Science, the Priestley Medal, the National Academy of Sciences Award in Chemical Science and the Wolf Prize.

• Arena Welch's e-mail address is arena.welch@theeagle.com.

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