Peaceful protest organized on July 29.
Lovely Varughese, the mother of 19-year-old Southern Illinois University student Pravin Varughese, who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in February, 2014, is resuming her quest for justice for her son, and to bring the culprit who killed her son to book.
In an e-mail, Lovely Varughese says that she has planned a protest at Daley Plaza on July 29th.
“Justice for Pravin Action Council is organizing peaceful protest at Daley Plaza onJuly 29th from 1:30 pm-3:30 pm for Justice for Pravin. Please visitwww.justiceforpravin.org for more info. This will be one of the biggest Indian Community protest Rally. Many delegates are coming from out of states,” wrote Lovely Varughese.
Last month, the city of Carbondale provided police records of the investigation in Pravin Varughese’s case, to Lovely Varughese and her family.
She told The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan she met with city officials and received the records about the death of her son, a criminal justice major from Morton Grove.
He disappeared after a party and his body was found five days later. Police say he had an altercation after taking a ride with someone. He then ran into a wooded area where his body was found, reported the Associated Press.
Varughese had then said she won’t comment on the documents until the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’s office releases a report.
WSILTV, a local affiliate of ABC News, had in May reported that having dropped city and county officials from her family’s lawsuit over her son’s death, Lovely Varughese put them on trial in her own way.
As cameras rolled during the Carbondale City Council’s public session, she went detail by detail and unanswered question by unanswered question, offering her case for why the family believes Pravin Varughese’s death in February 2014 was not an accident, as the coroner ruled.
“I’m a nurse,” she said. “I saw my son about two hours after he was found. They showed us only his face and he was covered-up to the neck. We all saw the bruise on his forehead, even before the pathologist saw him. I knew right then that my son was injured. And I remember saying out loud that someone beat him.”
Lovely Varughese says when the funeral director told the family they needed to see Pravin’s entire body, they realized they needed to conduct a second autopsy, this time in Chicago, where they live. The second one found Pravin died not only of hypothermia, as Jackson County’s coroner ruled, but also of blunt force trauma.
Beginning to cry as she spoke to council members, Varughese said, “I want to know if (Jackson County’s) pathologist even looked at my son or just sat in the next room and had the technician open and close him. It breaks my heart that he was just kept in the body bag during the entire procedure. What happened to following medical ethics and following standard procedure?”
She said her son was shown no dignity from the moment he was reported missing to the time he lay on the pathologist’s table.
“You wouldn’t even do something like this to your animal,” she said.
Varughese, who was born in India, told council members there were glaring errors from the beginning.
“He was called a white male on the police flyer; a black male by the driver; Middle Eastern by the pathologist; and in the coroner’s report he was described as a female in a couple places,” she said.
The driver she was referring to was Gaege Bethune. His image was captured by the camera inside an Illinois State Police trooper’s squad car. The trooper had seen Bethune’s truck parked on the side of Route 13 near Buffalo Wild Wings. Bethune acknowledged to the trooper that he and Pravin Varughese had been in a fight and he claimed the 19-year-old had run into the woods nearby when Bethune told him “cops” were coming.
It was in those woods that Pravin Varughese’s body was found after Bethune went to Carbondale police days later. The family does not believe Bethune is telling the whole truth and is suing him.
His mother indicated to city council members she’s not sure if investigators were straight with her about what Bethune told them either, reported WSIL TV.
“I believe the search started at 8 o’clock in the morning (on February 18, 2014). And by 9:30 in the morning, Pravin was found and taken away,” Lovely Varughese told them. “How is that possible? Did they know exactly where to go? How many officers were in the search? Who found him? What happened to the surveillance cameras in the area? We were told conflicting stories from the authorities about the location and position he was found.”
After she concluded her remarks, family friend and local media personality Monica Zukas showed the mayor and council members autopsy photos. A couple of them seemed stunned by what they were looking at and Councilwoman Jessica Bradshaw appeared overcome by tears and left the chamber for a few minutes after Zukas’ presentation.
The injuries to Pravin’s body, Zukas alleged in open session, clearly showed blunt force trauma of the type that might be delivered by a baseball bat. A special prosecutor is now looking over the investigation.