Stonewalled by the police, family desperately seeks closure.
By The American Bazaar Staff
WASHINGTON, DC: The family of Pravin Varughese, the 19-year-old student of Southern Illinois University who was found dead under mysterious circumstances more than five months ago, on February 18, are going to file a civil lawsuit against the individual, Gaege Bethune, with whom he was last seen on the night he disappeared, and the City of Carbondale for the alleged incompetency of the police force. The suit would demand a million dollars each, for a total of two million dollars.
Lovely Varughese, the mother of Pravin, who in an exclusive interview to The American Bazaar, had said that the family was appalled at the botched investigation by the police into her son’s death returning home after attending a party, on January 12. She said that the family had run out of all options to find out who had murdered her son, and get some closure.
Read the interview with Lovely Varughese here:
“I just want to know what happened that night; where he picked him up, what they did, instead of us giving all these stories… I don’t want this to happen to another family. I’m going through hell right now,” Lovely Varughese has said in an interview to KFVS 12, on the ordeal the family is going through.
The family of Pravin suspect that Bethune is the murderer.
According to Lovely Varughese, the case had drawn a high profile response, but yet the police department has done little to move the investigation forward and find the culprit(s), despite overwhelming evidence that her son was murdered, and not died of cold after running into the woods of his own volition, on a freezing February night, as the police claim.
She says U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Illinois State Rep. Lou Lang and others have appealed to the Carbondale police department to release information on what happened to her son, but have been stonewalled.
“It’s been a long time to wait,” said Lovely Varughese, to the Morton Grove Champion. “It’s painful every day living with this nightmare. Even my son’s personal belongings are still with them [Carbondale police], and that’s something very sentimental to us. Unless we acted, they could prolong this for years.”
An earlier independent autopsy conducted by an autopsy pathologist, Dr. Ben Margolis, found that Pravin died of “blunt force trauma to the head.”
Charles Stegmeyer, a Belleville attorney representing the Varughese family, said he will file a lawsuit in the very near future, according to the Champion. The first count of the lawsuit targets the man, Bethune, who gave Pravin a ride after a party, then told Carbondale police the two got into an altercation, after which Pravin fled into the woods. The second count targets the city of Carbondale for its police department’s actions.
“It addresses Carbondale’s complete failure to investigate the disappearance of this family’s son,” Stegmeyer was quoted as saying. “I believe it will bring to the surface what actually occurred, and who should bear the consequences of what we consider a poor effort by police.”
Lovely Varughese told the Champion that she met with the mayor of Carbondale a few weeks ago and gave him a copy of an online petition that raised 40,000 signatures. The petition asked for a full investigation of Pravin’s death, and that justice be delivered in his case. The mayor referred her to the city manager, who he said was in charge of the police department, Lovely Varughese said.
“We are in the process of giving it [the petition and its signatures] to the governor, and to [Attorney General] Lisa Madigan’s office,” Lovely Varughese said.
A second petition, which asks for signatures to demand a special prosecutor and/or grand jury investigation into the case, has collected 367 signatures so far, she said. The information is available at www.justiceforpravin.org, she added.
Varughese also said the driver, Bethune, who gave Pravin a ride on February 12 was recently arrested in a drug paraphernalia case and has a court date on August 12.
“I just don’t want him to hurt somebody else,” she told the Champion.