Daily Egyptian

Former police chief, Carbondale and coroner dismissed from Varughese case

By Sam Beard, @SamBeard_DE

Former Carbondale Police Chief Jody O’Guinn, Jackson County Coroner Dr. Thomas Kupferer and the city of Carbondale have been dismissed from a pending $5 milllion lawsuit related to the death of former SIU student Pravin Varughese.

Lovely Varughese, Pravin’s mother, said even though she voluntarily dismissed the three parties from the civil suit, she still believes Jackson County officials including members of the Carbondale Police Department have covered up evidence surrounding the death of her son. 

Gaege Bethune, the man believed to be the last person to see Pravin, was not dismissed from the case. 

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Pravin’s body was found in a wooded area near Buffalo Wild Wings on the 1400 block of E. Main Street on Feb. 18, 2014, five days after he was reported missing. 

Kupferer conducted an autopsy and opined hypothermia to be the cause of death, indicating no signs of foul play.

However, the family’s funeral director took one look at Pravin’s body and urged Lovely to get a second autopsy.

Dr. Ben Margolis, director of the Autopsy Center of Chicago, conducted the second autopsy and determined blunt force trauma to be an underlying cause of death and described heavy indicators of foul play, including bone-deep bruising not mentioned in Kupferer’s report.

Since Pravin’s death, the Varughese family has been repeatedly left in the dark.

Lovely said Freedom of Information Act requests she filed have been denied or ignored and she has been misled and lied to by the Carbondale Police Department and Jackson County officials.  

“By law they are supposed to respond to my [Freedom of Information Act] requests in five days,” Lovely said. “[Jackson County State’s Attorney] Michael Carr responded, saying he cannot do that because of the pending investigation.”

Some of the documents she is seeking involve the defendants, so at the advice of her attorney she dismissed them from the suit.

Lovely said she hopes her dismissal will help her obtain the reports she has spent more than a year trying to get and expedite the special prosecutor’s investigation into the death of her son.

“They like to prolong, and prolong and prolong it,” Lovely said. “I just hope this doesn’t go on forever.”

Sam Beard can be reached at [email protected]

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