Varughese family’s suspicions confirmed

By Tyler Dixon

A second autopsy on the body of SIU student Pravin Varughese has found the cause of death to be blunt-force trauma to the head.

The April 23 independent autopsy, results of which were released Friday, was performed by Dr. Ben Margolis, a forensic pathologist with the Autopsy Center of Chicago. The autopsy contradicts the one conducted by the Jackson County Coroner’s Office, which found no evidence of foul play and said instead that Varughese died from hypothermia.

The Carbondale Police Department previously said they did not suspect foul play in Varughese’s death.


The body of Varughese, 19, of Morton Grove, was found Feb. 18 in Carbondale. He was a sophomore at SIU.

Lovely Varughese, Pravin’s mother, and Charles Stegmeyer, an attorney for the family, said the Carbondale Police Department has not contacted them since the release of the second autopsy.

Stegmeyer said the next step is to send the autopsy to the state’s attorney and attorney general’s office after they receive the first autopsy report.

“Whatever he thinks is best is going to happen,” Varughese said.

Varughese said Stegmeyer would handle everything from now on.

An April 2 toxicology report came back negative for controlled substances, and found trace amounts of alcohol attributed to post-mortem inspection.

The Varughese family had a second autopsy that revealed bruising on Pravin’s head, hands and torso.


Varughese said the latest autopsy is very upsetting and the family knew something had happened to Pravin.

“According to [Carbondale police], there is no injury and the cause of death is hypothermia,” she said. “We knew he had injuries. I have seen them.”

Neither Stegmeyer nor the Varughese family have seen the first autopsy report.

Varughese went missing Feb. 12 after attending a party in the 600 block of West College Street. Varughese left the party around midnight with Gaege Bethune of Harrisburg.

He was reported missing the next day. His body was found six days later in a wooded area east of the 1400 block of East Main Street near Buffalo Wild Wings.

Rachel Elbe, a junior from Bradley studying art and a friend of Pravin’s, said she and a few close friends went to Pravin’s funeral and noticed bruising on his face even under the make-up.

“We knew right away obviously something else had happened,” she said. “It didn’t even look like the same person.

Elbe said officers called it a drug case the night of the party because there were drugs present at the party. Elbe said she hopes with people outside of Carbondale hearing the story that the truth will finally come out.

Varughese said her son is gone and nobody can bring him back, but there is something she hopes this will accomplish.

“I just hope this case would shed some kind of light into the system in Carbondale so this does not happen to another family,” she said.

Carbondale Sgt. Corey Kemp said the department would not comment on the case because it is an ongoing investigation.

Tyler Dixon can be reached at [email protected]@tdixon_de on Twitter