Post-mortem report indicates injuries to head, arm.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: The family of Pravin Varughese – the Southern Illinois University student who tragically died on a cold night in February, in the woods near his school’s campus – is questioning what really happened in his final hours of life, saying that there may be more to their son’s death than what was initially suspected.
At the time, police and coroners said that Varughese (19) froze to death in the woods near his campus, saying that he was simply not dressed well enough to be able to brave the frigid temperatures of a cold February night in Illinois.
But the night was always shrouded in mystery. Witnesses knew Varughese was on his way back home after drinking at a party, that he got into a car and was eventually let out near the spot where his body was found, and that he tweeted about getting into a fight shortly before disappearing.
Now, however, additional post-mortem work, including some conducted by the family’s funeral home for Varughese, has revealed that the boy suffered at least three blunt force traumatic injuries prior to death. Additionally, Varughese had several wounds on his right forearm, meaning that they were defensive in nature – this meshes with the tweets that said he was in a fight that night.
Additionally, the unnamed individual who gave Varughese a ride that night is still a point of contention for his family. Back in February, the police said that they spoke to the driver of the car – who came out and spoke to the police of his own volition, and was not coerced into doing so – in order to get as much information as they could. The driver had told a state trooper who pulled him over that night, after Varughese had left him, that the hitchhiker he picked up talked about needing money and gas before assaulting the driver and taking off into the woods.
Police never considered the driver a suspect, and never arrested him or forcefully brought him in for questioning. The police also very quickly ruled out foul play in Varughese’s death, saying that the cause of death was hypothermia and a tragic mix of poor decisions. Varughese’s family, however, is demanding that police call the driver in for more questioning, and pursue all leads as far as humanly possible.
The Southern reports that Jackson County State Attorney Michael Carr may have wanted the case swept away as soon as possible.
According to their report, Carr met with Varughese’s mother, Lovely, and said that text messages to and from Varughese’s phone indicate that he was a drug dealer, and that if the case were to go any further, these facts would have to be made public. Essentially, state police and law enforcement believe that Varughese’s death was his own fault.
Police have not publicly commented on the family’s insistence on further investigation, and there has been no word of any behind-the-scenes investigation going on. For all intents and purposes, local police have closed that chapter, leaving Varughese’s family with more questions than answers, and prolonging their tragedy as they look for some measure of closure.
[This article was amended to reflect that Pravin Varughese’s post-mortem toxicology reports did not, in fact, reveal that he was drunk or on drugs at the time of his death, according to information provided by his mother to The American Bazaar.]