Interview with woman who alleges negligent police investigation.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: A southern Illinois woman, who has known some of the people involved with the Pravin Varughese case for several years, came forward over the weekend to tell her own story regarding the boy’s tragic death back in February.
The woman – who requested that The American Bazaar not release her name, but for the sake of this story, will be called T – was on a local radio show to speak about what she knows about the Pravin Varughese case. In a nutshell, she alleges that her son’s friends may know a young man who beat up Pravin on the night he went missing, and that this man could have, intentionally or otherwise, caused Pravin’s death.
As she explained on the radio show, T’s son received a phone call late on the night of February 12, which is when Pravin originally went missing. The call, which came in around midnight, was to ask T’s son if he could come pick a few friends up from a party, as they were unable to drive. T and her husband did not allow her son to pick the kids up, as she and her family live a little far away from Carbondale, and that was that.
A few days later, T’s son, along with the same friends who wanted a ride from him the other night, were in his bedroom with the door closed, speaking in hushed voices. These friends are, allegedly, the people who rode to the party Pravin was at with the young man who told police he picked up Pravin later in the night to drop him home.
According to her, their conversation was about “that boy” who went missing, and that someone they knew may have beaten him up that night. Maternal instincts overcame T, who decided, against her better judgment, not to press her son and his friends for more information.
But the information she had happened upon weighed on her conscience, and within a few days, she called the Carbondale Police to inform them that she may have information about Pravin Varughese. Keep in mind that although T was able to put together that “that boy” who was beat up was Pravin, this is still before she or anyone else knew that he was dead.
“When someone’s missing, any kind of information would be helpful in finding them, right?” said T, to The American Bazaar. “I know that if it was my child, any kind of lead or piece of information, just anything at all, I would want to know. I don’t care if it’s hearsay or gossip.”
According to T, Carbondale Police took down the information that she gave them, including the names of her son and his friends. However, the dispatcher asked T if a specific someone, whose name was not revealed, was present during this hushed conversation in her son’s bedroom; T said that he was not.
The dispatcher then apparently lost interest, saying that there had been “two or three” previous calls about Pravin’s disappearance mentioned that name and a few others, implying that the police were only interested in those individuals.
Nevertheless, T was given assurances that Carbondale Police would follow up these leads and get back to her.
But even after Pravin’s body was found on February 18, and even after Bethune told police his side of the story, investigators never followed up with T apparently – at least the way T sees it – because they thought that the information she shared with them was not worth pursuing.
When police said that they had ruled out foul play and that Pravin had died of hypothermia, T believed it, and assumed whatever she heard must have been about something else. Life went on as usual until T saw a news report about Pravin’s second autopsy, which stated that the boy’s body had defensive wounds and other markings consistent with a beating or violent altercation, and that he had no drugs or alcohol in his system.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” said T, on the radio show. “The first thing I thought was ‘his poor mom,’ because I really just felt for her. But then it just started bothering me because I had called the police, and they had said there was no foul play and that he died of hypothermia. But then these people [who conducted the second autopsy] say that’s not true, and I knew something was not right here.”
T’s first instinct was to call the Carbondale Police again, but she stopped herself because she didn’t know if they could be trusted. As she puts it, she even considered calling the FBI and other law enforcement agencies – “who do you call?”
Now that she’s shared her story with the local community over the radio, and with The American Bazaar, T is hoping that more people will call upon the local police to become more transparent in their investigation of the case, and in terms of letting the public know how they came to certain conclusions. Unfortunately, she says, she still has not been contacted by the Carbondale Police, even after taking her story public.
“I would hope that the police do a thorough investigation and help [Pravin’s] family find peace,” said T. “My intention for going on the air was not to convict anyone or anything like that, because I have no clue what really happened. I’m not saying anyone is guilty or innocent; all I’m saying is that I did call the police, and I believe the police were negligent in not following up.”
Like Lovely Varughese, who also spoke with The American Bazaar regarding her son’s case, T also mentions a prior murder case in Carbondale that she believes the police department screwed up, and which she says brought them “a lot of bad publicity.”
Pravin’s death continues to be a lightning rod for controversy in the local community, and people from the Carbondale area continue to go back-and-forth on whether or not Pravin really did die in the cold because he was drunk and/or drugged, or if something more sinister happened.
In the interest of getting all sides of the story, The American Bazaar has reached out to the Carbondale Police Department for comments on the story. That request is still pending.