Gaege Bethune indicted for the death of Pravin Varughese


From left to right: Pravin Varughese’s younger sisters Preethi and Priya kneel during a memorial ceremony Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017, in a wooded area bordering Illinois Route 13 where police say Pravin died of hypothermia, three years ago.”It’s always hard to come back here,” Priya said. “I still miss him a lot every day. It’s nice to go back to the place where he had his last moments on earth.”(Athena Chrysanthou | @Chrysant1Athena)

By Cory Ray

Three and a half years after the death of Pravin Varughese, his mother Lovely Varughese has finally found some solace after Gaege Bethune was indicted for two counts of first-degree murder on Thursday.

“Finally, my son has a voice,” Lovely Varughese said. “We felt like all of the fight of us trying to clear his name is finally done.”

Bethune is being held on a $1 million bond, said Monica Zukas, a victim’s advocate working with the family.


Varughese’s body was found in the woods near Route 13 on Feb. 18, 2014, five days after he was reported missing.

Lovely Varughese said Jackson County State’s Attorney Michael Carr asserted Varughese was extremely intoxicated on the night of his death. A toxicology report showed otherwise, reporting negligible signs of alcohol in his body.

“We were being blamed,” Lovely Varughese said. “He was being blamed for his own death, and the person who had a part in it was walking free all this time.”

Bethune is believed to be the last person who saw Varughese before his death.

An original autopsy performed of Varughese’s body listed his cause of death as hypothermia, but when his parents saw the body of their son, they were not convinced the answer that simple.

Dr. Ben Margolis performed a second autopsy upon the family’s request in which he reported two bruises on Varughese’s head and a cut along his nose.

Bethune was originally a suspect in a criminal investigation that ended on Feb 25, 2015. He was not indicted at the time.


“I feel like whoever did this to my son has to face the law,” Lovely Varughese said following the indictment.

In a feature from Investigation Discovery, police interrogation video shows Bethune admitting to fighting Varughese moments before Varughese ran into the woods he later died in.

“I hit him dead square in the face,” Bethune said in the video.

But police dash cam shows Bethune walking out of the woods that same night, as seen in the Investigation Discovery video.

In 2015, Lovely Varughese said she was not content with how the trial ended, but two years later, an indictment has been served.

“I feel pretty good with what happened today,” Lovely Varughese said. “I just wanted somebody to take responsibility for my son’s death and that happened today.

Editor-in-Chief Cory Ray can be reached at or on Twitter @coryray_de.

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