No charges in Varughese case, mother claims cover-up

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No charges in Varughese case, mother claims cover-up

By Sam Beard, @SamBeard_DE

No charges will be filed in the death of Pravin Varughese, an SIU student whose body was found in a wooded area on the 1400 block of E. Main Street on Feb. 18, 2014, five days after he was reported missing.

On Wednesday, Michael Carr, Jackson County state’s attorney, said the criminal investigation is now over.

The grand jury came back with no indictment against Gaege Bethune, the person believed to have been the last one to see Varughese on the night he disappeared.

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Lovely Varughese, Pravin’s mother, said she is not happy no charges are being filed. She said she does not think Carr ever wanted to find the truth surrounding the death of her son.

“In September I came back to Carbondale and met with him face to face,” Lovely said. “He told me, ‘I am not going to charge that boy, I will not ruin another life.’ He had already made up his mind.”

Calls to Carr’s office were not returned by press time Wednesday.

Lovely said she does not understand why Carr waited so long in the case—a process that has caused the family much grief—if he had already made up his mind.

“From the beginning he was covering it up,” she said. “If he wanted the truth, he would have had [Dr. Ben Margolis] for the grand jury.”

Margolis is the pathologist who performed an independent autopsy on Pravin two days after the original coroner’s report was signed.

According to a Wednesday press release from Carr’s office, Lovely would only give a copy of Margolis’ findings to Carr in exchange for the official autopsy report. The office declined to share their findings and never received Margolis’ report.

The second autopsy, which included more than 100 photographs, was requested by Lovely after she saw her son and was not satisfied with the first autopsy, Margolis said.

Margolis, director of the Autopsy Center of Chicago, said Pravin had two bruises—each a few inches long—above the right eye, a bruise just left of the center of the forehead, an abrasion to the bridge of the nose, a deep bruise to the right forearm and a punch mark on his left side.

“[Carr] very much knew that there was a second autopsy,” she said.

Neither the family nor its lawyer were aware a grand jury proceeding took place until afterward.

“Two weeks ago [Carr] called our lawyer [Charles Stegmeyer] and said he was going to release all of the reports by the end of the month,” Lovely said. “I found out [Tuesday] when he called Mr. Stegmeyer. … It is so strange. Whatever he is doing is so strange.”

The second autopsy report concluded that there was an underlying cause of death. Blunt force trauma could have left Pravin incapacitated before he went into hypothermia or the blunt force trauma itself could have been the cause of death, Margolis said.

He said because he was not granted access to the original autopsy report or photographs, he could not conclude cause of death.

“There were multiple [Freedom of Information Act] requests that were denied, and I myself spoke with Mr. Carr to ask if I could review them, he said that question would not be addressed,” Margolis said.

Dr. James Jacobi, who preformed the first autopsy, could not be reached for comment.

Lovely said she has teamed up with the Archangels of Justice, a group that attempts to expose corruption in the criminal justice system, to spread awareness.

The group has drafted a 28-page affidavit and is distributing it around the country, Lovely said.

“This is the beginning,” she said. “Our affidavit will go everywhere, we are in contact with the governor and we will take this everywhere.”

Sam Beard can be reached at [email protected]

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