Who Killed My Son? Indian American Lovely Varughese’s epic struggle for justice

The Varughese family
The Varughese family (from left to right): mother Lovely, father Mathew, young sister Preethi, Pravin, and older sister Priya (courtesy of Lovely Varughese)

Streaming on discovery+ starting March 23, it shares the family’s fight against systematic racism and prejudice.

In 2014 Pravin Varughese, an Indian American student at Southern Illinois University, went to a house party in Carbondale, Illinois. He was never seen alive again.

It took five days to discover his body, but the push to find out how Pravin’s life truly ended lasted years. Rumors abounded that the 19-year-old’s death was his own doing, and accusations of drugs, alcohol and foul play inundated the case.

But Pravin’s mother, Lovely Varughese, knew her son, and she felt certain there was more to the story than the authorities let on, says a press release from discovery+ channel.

Fighting what she believed to be prejudice, deception, and a flawed legal system at every turn, Lovely refused to give up on the memory of Pravin, adds the channel which has documented her epic struggle for justice.

RELATED: I wanted Gaege Bethune to know that there are consequences to your actions: Lovely Varughese, mother of slain Pravin Varughese (August 8, 2019)

The Varughese family went through great lengths to prove that their only son was not the cause of his own death, and that the truth is worth fighting for, it says.

This two-hour special is executive produced and narrated by acclaimed television journalist Soledad O’Brien as she reports on the nuances behind this case and follows a family as they searched for justice. ‘Who Killed My Son?’ streams exclusively on discovery+ beginning March 23.

“The mystery behind this young man’s death is just too much for any mother to bear. When the criminal justice system failed to get answers, she began an epic fight for justice, marshaling a community of supporters to hold officials accountable. What they discovered was nothing less than shocking,” says executive producer Soledad O’Brien.

“We are proud to bring this incredibly moving story of perseverance to discovery+,” says Lisa Holme, Group SVP Content and Commercial Strategy for discovery+.

RELATED: For Pravin Varughese’s mom, closure finally comes with the charging of son’s suspected killer, Gaege Bethune (July 22, 2017)

“Lovely Varguhese’s advocacy for her son took years of working against racism and prejudice, and hopefully by sharing her story, other families will not have to endure the same fight.”

This discovery+ original follows the challenges the Varughese family faced as they fought for an investigation into their son’s disappearance.

From pushing local authorities for a transparent investigation, to consistently facing what she believed is systemic racism because of the color of their skin, this Indian American family exhausted all avenues to find out what really happened to their son.

Now Lovely Varughese comes forward to share her story, joined by her family’s advocate and interviews with law enforcement, friends and those connected to the case.

RELATED: 42 months after Pravin Varughese’s death, murder charges filed against suspect Gaege Bethune (July 19, 2017)

Through poignant, emotional and jarring interviews, this special probes for answers to the question: was Pravin murdered, or was it an accident as law enforcement initially believed? And should someone be put behind bars for his untimely death?

Who Killed My Son? is produced for discovery+ by Texas Crew Productions and SO’B Productions.

Executive Producers for Texas Crew are David Karabinas and Brad Bernstein, and Executive Producers for SO’B are Soledad O’Brien and Jo Honig. For discovery+, Dianna Sperrazza is Executive Producer.


Lovely Varughese to continue protest to get justice for her son Pravin Varughese (July 13, 2016)

Pravin Varughese died of ‘environmental hypothermia’: Michael Carr (March 4, 2015)

Pravin Varughese murder case: secret grand jury not to charge prime suspect Gaege Bethune (February 25, 2015)

Charge Gaege Bethune for the murder of Pravin Varughese: Ira Robins of ArchAngels of Justice (January 22, 2015)

Wrongful death lawsuit filed against Illinois State Police, trooper Chris Martin in Pravin Varughese’s murder case (December 2, 2014)

City of Carbondale, former police chief Jody O’Guinn want wrongful death lawsuit filed by the family of Pravin Varughese dismissed (October 10, 2014)

Pravin Varughese’s family to file lawsuit against Gaege Bethune, City of Carbondale, for a total of $2 million (July 31, 2014)

‘A young man beat up Pravin Varughese the night he went missing’(June 30, 2014)

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 (June 25, 2014)

Was Pravin Varughese murdered? (June 17, 2014)

Southern Illinois University student Pravin Varughese found dead in Carbondale after missing for 6 days (February 18, 2014)


  1. Saraswati Udupa

    Dear lovely
    I saw about ur son pravin today on discovery channel…..i was so so touched and moved
    Pl accept heartfelt condolences
    May God be with pravin and with u always

  2. Deeply moving documentary. The faith and quiet dignity of the Varughese family was incredible.
    His mother, Lovely – never wavered in battle to prove her son, Pravin, was an innocent, honorable young man.
    Law enforcement and the judiciary comes out of this sad story looking utterly incompetent and prejudiced.
    Will pray that the Varugheses get justice they deserve and their sons killer is jailed for a long time.

  3. Lovely,

    My heart is so heavy knowing your story. I hope you can learn the truth and have justice.

  4. I just watched the whole thing on Dead line. Just another example of Low life racist people.
    It is obvious that the Murder, Picked up Pravin out of very Wrong intentions, Looking for drugs or just bit him up just because he was Indian… Pravin bitten up, runs away, still conscious enough to call some one…
    The Interesting part is the Police Cover up!!! Ignoring all the evidence, injuries, even making up things as Pravin was drunk. that was completely a lie, and talking about the body consumed the alcohol, I am a physician and that is a false statement. unless the level of alcohol was very low that means he was not drunk.
    What is over looked is why local Police , Prosecutor and another attorney from state all were trying to cover up and ignore the facts?? that is what is sickening
    The Justice system that defend the criminal and blames the Victim is disgusting .
    As a mother watching the whole thing makes me sick on my stomach.
    This is a classic case of systemic racism.
    My Deepest sympathy for Pravin family. And I think they need to fight not only for justice for their son Because their Victory would mean a lot to others as well.

  5. I can only say how sorry I am you had to go through this. I to went thru this with my son. I am white, the prejudice for white women is we are emotionally unstable, they try to make you look as if you are crazy. It’s horrible for any person to go thru. And my heart goes out to you.

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