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Purdue student killed in residence hall overnight, suspect identified as victim’s roommate

A preliminary autopsy found that the victim, identified as Varun Manish Chheda, 20, died from "multiple sharp force traumatic injuries."
Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
A student at Purdue University in Indiana is in custody after calling 911 to report the death of his roommate, which is being investigated as a homicide, police said.Marsha Williamson Moh / Alamy

Police are investigating the homicide of a student who was killed in a residence hall at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana.

The suspect has been identified as the victim's roommate and has been arrested on a murder charge, according to NBC News.

A 911 call was made to police at 12:44 a.m. on Oct. 5 by a suspect described as the victim's roommate, according to a statement by Purdue's Director of Media and Public Relations Tim Doty. The suspect is Ji Min "Jimmy" Sha, 22, a junior cybersecurity major and international student from South Korea, Purdue University Police Chief Lesley Wiete said during a news conference on Oct. 5.

Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 20-year-old Varun Manish Chheda, a senior from Indianapolis who was studying data science, and they released a preliminary autopsy that found Chheda died of "multiple sharp force traumatic injuries."

No details have been released about a motive or what Sha said on the 911 call.

“I believe this was unprovoked and senseless,” Wiete said at the news conference.

School officials said in a statement that there was no threat to the community.

"This is as tragic an event as we can imagine happening on our campus and our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by this terrible event," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said in a statement on the school's website on Oct. 5.

Daniels added that the school does not have all the details of the incident and the Purdue University Police Department is conducting an ongoing investigation.

The staff at the residence halls, the Office of the Dean of Students, and Purdue's counseling and psychological services are available to support anyone in need at the school of almost 50,000 students in West Lafayette, Indiana, according to his statement. Nearby students at McCutcheon Hall where the call came from, according to WTHR, were moved to another area as police investigated.

"As Purdue’s president, but even more so as a parent myself, I assure you that the safety and security of our students is the single highest priority on our campus," Daniels said in the statement. "Purdue is an extraordinarily safe place on any given day, and compared with cities of Purdue’s population (approximately 60,000 in all), we experience a tiny fraction of violent and property crime that occurs elsewhere.

"Such statistics are of no consolation on a day like this. A death on our campus and among our Purdue family affects each of us deeply."

Dennis Bisgaard, interim head at Park Tudor School, a private school in Indianapolis, confirmed that Chheda had graduated from the institution in 2020 and expressed in a statement how “saddened” the community was by Chheda’s death.

“The entire Park Tudor community is incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of Varun Chheda, Park Tudor class of 2020,” Bisgaard said in the statement. “Our prayers are with his family at this difficult time."