(KTVI) – The body of a missing Southern Illinois University student has been found in Carbondale, but police don’t believe there was any foul play surrounding nineteen year old Pravin Varughese’s death.
The young man disappeared after leaving a party last Wednesday. He had tweeted that his knuckles were bloody and that he may have been in a fight. Police now say an altercation occurred, but it had nothing to do with his disappearance.
In a Tuesday afternoon news conference police say a man came forward who Varughese had befriended at that party. He is not an SIU student. The two left together, with the second man driving. Police won’t say what happened, but there was some kind of fight between the two.
“Following [the] dispute, Pravin exited the vehicle at the 1400 Block of East Main Street and fled into the wooded area,” Carbondale Police Chief Jody O’Guinn told reporters. “The difficult terrain and low temperatures are believed to have contributed to Pravin’s difficulty finding his way out of the wooded area.”
Temperatures that night fell into the low teens, and police say Varughese wasn’t wearing a coat.
But following the news conference, the nineteen-year-old’s family arrived in the area where his body had been found, and they questioned the police conclusion that no foul play had led to their son’s death.
“We just cannot think he ran into the woods like this,’ his mother, Lovely Varaughese said. “Standing here I really don’t know how he could have done this and if he had a phone with him he would have called somebody right away.
She continued, “I don’t know what happened. There has to be something that they have to solve. There has to be something they have to solve. This is not like him.”
His sister, St. Louis University student Priya Varaughese agreed.
“This doesn’t seem like his character. He’s smarter than this. He wouldn’t go out on his own.”
Police wouldn’t say if they believe alcohol played a role, but the chief had a curious account from the driver about that ride Pravin accepted.
“He was supposed to be giving him a ride home but according to some of the statements that we have he was unable to tell him where he lived exactly.”
According to friends, quickly accepting a ride from a near stranger might not be out of character.
“He was the life of the party,” Dakota Reynolds said. “He was always fun. He always had something new. He’d always talk to random people, making friends.”
His roommate, Nathan Haas reinforced that “life of the party” image.
“He always did random stupid stuff. We’d always go out and party. We’d go our separate ways and he’d come back with the best story.”
Police say they will wait for toxicology results from an autopsy before declaring the case closed.
Meanwhile, SIU Carbondale officials say they are discussing plans for a memorial service with the family.
The school will hold a moment of silence at the basketball game Tuesday night. Southern Illinois University says that they will do everything they can for the family and respect their wishes.
Jiji Abraham writes on Varughese's facebook wall, "On behalf of our Family, we wanted to thank you all for your kind words, endless support and prayers for Pravin. Authorities have confirmed this morning that they have found his body. We ask that you continue to keep Pravin's parents and sisters in your prayers as we go through this difficult time and mourn the loss of a beloved Son Brother, Grandson, Nephew, Cousin, & Friend."
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