Lovely Varughese files suit against state trooper

By Austin Miller

Lovely Varughese, mother of deceased SIU student Pravin Varughese, has filed a $100,000 civil lawsuit against Illinois State Trooper Chris Martin for his negligence while investigating the disappearance of her son.

Pravin was reported missing on Feb. 12, and was found dead on Feb. 18 east of the 1400 block of East Main Street near Buffalo Wild Wings.

According to the lawsuit, Pravin left a party with another man, Gaege Bethune, and the two got into an argument, which caused them to pull over off of Illinois Route 13. He then reportedly ran into the woods along the road.

Advertisement

Martin arrived on the scene, spoke to Bethune and briefly looked into the woods, according to Varughese’s claim. He did not file a report regarding the incident until a week after Pravin was found.

Charles Stegmeyer, Lovely’s attorney, mailed the lawsuit Nov. 24, along with a third Freedom of Information Act request for the police and autopsy reports, which were denied previously.

In February, Jody O’Guinn, former Carbondale Chief of Police, said Pravin died from hypothermia, as he was found in just jeans and a t-shirt on a night when temperatures dropped below freezing.

Lovely said she last heard from Carbondale Police Department in April, when they released the toxicology report stating her son’s body had no traces of alcohol or drugs.

The family paid for a separate autopsy, which found bruises on his hands, head and torso. Dr. Ben Margolis, forensic pathologist with the Autopsy Center of Chicago, found Pravin’s cause of death to be blunt-force trauma to the head.

“I don’t care what happened, but everything I saw better be on that first autopsy,” she said. “He didn’t get those injuries in an ambulance.”

Lovely went to Washington, D.C., on Nov. 13 and 14 to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice. While there, she met with U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk, and Rep. Jan Schakowsky.

Advertisement

She said she hopes the lawsuit will force the CPD to alter its policies.

“I know [Martin is] going to say that he was just following protocol, but there’s more to life than just protocol,” Lovely said. “If he did his job with a human perspective, my son would still be here.”

Austin Miller can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @AMiller_DE.

Advertisement