Gaege Bethune yet to respond to lawsuit.
By The American Bazaar Staff
WASHINGTON, DC: The City of Carbondale, Illinois and the former Chief of Police of Carbondale Jody O’Guinn have responded to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Pravin Varughese, the Southern Illinois University student, whose bruised body was found in mysterious circumstances in a wooded area just outside of the city in February after a night out with friends: they disclaim any fault and want the lawsuit dismissed.
An individual, Gaege Bethune, who was probably the last person to have seen Varughese alive, and who the family suspect of being the murderer of Varughese has also been named in the lawsuit. He’s been on the run, however, scared of being served papers, the family of Varughese contend.
KFVS TV reported that the Varughese’s family attorney Charles Stegmeyer says despite the number of anonymous tips suggesting where Bethune is allegedly hiding; his whereabouts are still a mystery.
“We believe that he is living house to house and actually on the run from being served with papers,” said Stegmeyer.
Read an earlier story done by The American Bazaar: Pravin Varughese’s family to file lawsuit against Gaege Bethune, City of Carbondale, for a total of $2 million
The Varughese family hired a private firm to track the driver down. Police in Arkansas are on the lookout for him as the private investigator believes he has family there.
Pravin’s mother, Lovely Varughese, says the frustration only adds to the family’s grief.
“If he has nothing to hide, they would have been able to find him by now,” said Lovely.
Read The American Bazaar’s exclusive interview with Lovely Varughese: Carbondale police have botched up investigation into my son’s death, have told lies after lies, can’t trust them anymore: Pravin Varughese’s mother
Stegmeyer said he plans to file a motion to disqualify the lawyer representing O’Guinn and Carbondale, as there is a conflict of interest between the two defendants based on the recent firing of O’Guinn.
NBC Chicago did an investigation of Varughese’s death and say they have “uncovered mounting evidence that shows the death was no accident.”
The Carbondale medical examiner’s report said that hypothermia was the cause of Pravin’s death. The family says Carbondale police told them that Pravin drank too much at a party, hitched a ride with a stranger and then got lost in the woods after an argument.
“Seeing his injuries, there has to be more than that,” said Lovely Varughese to NBC.
Even after Pravin’s body was prepared for burial his parents could clearly see the bruise on his forehead. They hired Doctor Ben Margolis, Director of the Autopsy Center of Chicago, to investigate. Pointing to an autopsy photo of Parvin’s forehead, Margolis said “It’s a sign of blunt force trauma.”
Margolis found three bruises on Pravin’s face and what he describes as a deep defensive bruise on his right forearm. A sign Margolis says Pravin might have been fighting for his life.
“That bruise was right down to the bone. This was not an accident,” Margolis added to NBC.
NBC 5 Investigates retraced Pravin’s steps that night he left an off-campus party around 11:30 pm. Friends say he did have some drinks.
“He was fine,” said Rachel Elbe, a friend of Pravin’s.
Pravin’s friends say they were supposed to meet them at a nearby bar but never showed up. The temperature that night was 14 degrees.
“The bar he was supposed to be going to was three blocks away, said Dakota Reynolds, another friend of Pravin’s.
At 12:33 p.m., an Illinois State Trooper stopped to investigate an empty pickup truck parked on the shoulder of Illinois Route 13 in Carbondale. The pickup driver, later identified as Bethune, approached the officer saying that he’d offered a black man a ride and asked for gas money but the man punched him and ran. The trooper’s report notes that he saw a mark on the driver’s face and briefly searched the woods with a flashlight but found nothing.
The autopsy report also indicates that Pravin could have survived for hours in the woods. His family does not believe the driver’s gas money story. They say their son suffered far more than a mark on his face and accuse the driver of attacking Pravin with a blunt force instrument.
“There has to be more than just a small fight seeing his injuries. Just tell us what he did,” pleaded Lovely.
Bethune did not respond to NBC 5 Investigates calls.
Five days after Pravin first disappeared, Carbondale police questioned Bethune and connected his stop on the road that night to Pravin. It was only then that Pravin’s body was found.
“It goes through my head a million times at night. If I knew he was here I would have just got through here in a heartbeat and found him,” Varughese said pointing to the woods.