A Purdue University student was stabbed to death in a dormitory on the school’s Indiana campus, according to official reports and preliminary autopsy results.. A suspect, the victim’s roommate, was detained in connection with the crime.
The victim has been identified as Varun Manish Chheda, 20, a senior at Purdue studying data science. His roommate was identified as Ji Min Sha, 22, a junior cyber security major from Seoul, South Korea, according to Purdue University Police Chief Leslie Witte.
Sha now faces a murder charge for his alleged involvement in his roommate’s death, police said at a news conference outside McCutcheon Hall, the residence hall on Purdue’s West Lafayette campus where Cheda was killed. Sha is being held without bond in the Tippecanoe County Jail, booking records show.
A preliminary autopsy revealed that “multiple blunt force trauma injuries” were the cause of Chheda’s death, according to the Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office, which conducted the autopsy. The death is believed to be a homicide, with a final autopsy report pending toxicology results.
Sha reported the death of his roommate to authorities after midnight. He called 911 and was transferred to Purdue University police around 12:44 a.m. local time Wednesday, according to Tim Doty, the school’s director of media and public relations, who confirmed preliminary reports of the death to CBS News.
“The suspect is in custody and there is no threat to the public,” Doty said earlier.
It’s unclear whether the roommate confessed, and police said the ongoing investigation meant they could not discuss what might have prompted Sha to call 911. The roommates had not been involved in any altercations prior to Chheda’s murder, and Witte said the investigation so far has shown the killing was “unprovoked” and “senseless.”
Mitch Daniels, the university’s president, addressed the student’s death, said in a statement submitted by members of the Purdue community and posted online.
“I am writing to inform you that one of our students was shot and killed in his dorm early this morning,” Daniels wrote, noting that the student’s roommate reported the incident to police and was taken into custody as a suspect.
“This is as tragic an event as we can imagine on our campus, and our hearts and thoughts are with everyone affected by this terrible event,” the school president continued. “We don’t have all the details yet. Our Purdue University Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation into this incident so that we can all learn more about what happened.”
Daniels shared information about support resources for students and stressed that their safety is the university’s “top priority.”
“Purdue is an extremely safe place on any given day, and compared to cities with Purdue’s population (about 60,000 in total), we experience a fraction of the violent and property crimes that occur elsewhere,” he wrote he “Such statistics are not comforting on such a day. A death on our campus and among our Purdue family affects each of us deeply.”