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Roommate Charged With Murder Following On-Campus Death Of Purdue University Student

Officials say Ji Min Sha called police early Oct. 5 to report the death of his roommate, Varun Manish Chheda, who died from "multiple sharp force traumatic injuries."

By Jax Miller
Alabama College Student Found Murdered In Her Apartment

An international student at an Indiana university has been arrested for his roommate’s on-campus murder.

Details continue to emerge following the death of 20-year-old Varun Manish Chheda of Indianapolis, who was killed in his dorm room at Purdue University’s McCutcheon Hall early Wednesday, Oct. 5, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier. Although Purdue University Police declined to provide many details surrounding Chheda’s death, the preliminary findings of an autopsy performed by the Tippecanoe County Medical Examiner’s Office revealed Chheda died from “multiple sharp force traumatic injuries,” according to Fox Indianapolis affiliate WXIN.

On Wednesday afternoon, 22-year-old Ji Min Sha was booked into the Tippecanoe County Jail on charges of murder, per jail records reviewed by Oxygen.com.

According to Purdue Police Chief Lesley Wiete, Ji Min Sha — also known as “Jimmy”  — was an international student from Korea who majored in cyber security as a university junior. At around 12:44 a.m., Sha allegedly called 911 to report Chheda’s death, but the context of the call was not released.

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Wiete called the murder “senseless” and “unprovoked,” though a possible motive behind the attack remains unknown.

The murder has shaken students at the public university, some questioning why the school did not immediately send alerts to students following initial reports of Chheda’s death.

Tim Doty, Purdue’s Director of Media and Public Relations, said an alert hadn’t been sent because the suspect was immediately taken into custody, according to WXIN.

Purdue University Campus

This was echoed by Wiete during Wednesday morning’s live press conference, as published by the Journal & Courier.

“We had him very quickly, and there was no threat to campus by this individual any further,” said Wiete.

Students living in the hall were moved to other rooms, according to Purdue Communications Specialist Trevor Peters. WXIN reported those pupils are expected to regain access to their dorms by end of day.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels issued a statement on Wednesday, offering support for students by the Office of the Dean of Students and the university’s Counseling and Psychological Services.

“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,” said Daniels. “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.”

Varun Manish Chheda graduated from the Park Tudor private high school in Indianapolis, according to NBC Indianapolis affiliate WTHR. Chheda was remembered for competing in several national science competitions and earning first place at the 2015 State Science Olympiad Competition at Indiana University for his presentation in the Environmental Chemistry category. He also won second place for his work in the Solar System category, according to a statement from Sycamore School, where Chheda attended from Kindergarten to the eighth grade.

School Head Diane Borgmann also noted Chheda’s achievements as a four-year member of MATHCOUNTS and earning first place in the state’s “Concurso Académico Spanish” 2015 and 2016 competitions.

“Varun was a brilliant student and well-liked by his classmates,” Borgmann stated. “He possessed admirable character traits that stemmed from a strong family.”

Chheda’s homicide marks the first on-campus murder this decade, following the 2014 shooting and stabbing death of Andrew Boldt by classmate Cody Cousins, according to the Journal & Courier. Cousins took his own life following his conviction, according to the Indianapolis Star.

Chheda was a senior at Purdue University and majored in data science.

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