CHICAGO, IL (KTVI)-Police called it an accidental, but family members of a former SIU-Cardondale student believe they now have evidence that points towards murder in the death of Pravin Varughese. The SIUC student’s sister, Priya, is a student at SLU and has led the charge in second guessing account of her brother's death presented by officials in Carbondale. Now her family's lawyer says they may have evidence of murder.
It was February when Varughese’s body was found in a wooded area in Carbondale. At the time officials said the college student went to a party, got a ride with someone he met there, and then got into a fight with that person. Police said Varughese left the car, wandered into the woods, got lost, and eventually died of exposure. It had been a bitter cold night.
Police said the death was accidental, that the fight had nothing to do with the young man's death. But now the family's lawyer, Jimmy Vachachira, tells FOX 2 that an independent autopsy they had conducted found blunt force trauma, a blow to the head, to be an underlying cause of death.
"It’s time the state prosecutor puts a little heat on and pushes hard to figure out exactly what happened because unfortunately, this pathology report, it’s now brought a lot more questions to what happened to Pravin that night," said Vachachira.
The family has had their suspicions along.
"In a sense it proved my assumptions from the beginning all along," said Priya Varughese. "I knew someone…like he was hurt. That is so obvious." She added, "So much anger right now. I mean, how did the officials from Carbondale tell us there was no injury when this was obviously, like a big deal."
When asked about the family's suspicion of foul play back in April, Carbondale police refused to comment, saying only that there was an ongoing investigation. FOX 2 has reached out to official there regarding this possible new evidence in the case, but has not heard back. Right now it's still on the books as an accidental death.
When asked if the new evidence points to murder, Attorney Vachachira said, "At this point with the injuries he sustained I think the local authorities need to do a lot more investigation and find that out for themselves."
Priya Varughese says her family is going to keep fighting to get to the bottom of her brother's death.
"As a family we’re just going to keep pushing forward. We don’t want our family’s story to be another family’s story. So we’re just trying to take steps to prevent that."