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A university student accused of calling the police to confess to his roommate’s murder has been officially charged.
Ji Min Sha, 22, appeared in a Tippecanoe County courtroom in Indiana on Thursday, where he was officially charged with the on-campus murder of Varun Manish Chheda, 20, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier. Prosecutors say Sha stabbed the accomplished Indianapolis student multiple times with a folding knife in the early morning hours of Oct. 5 while in their Purdue University dorm room.
Though a possible motive has yet to be established, Sha told reporters on his way into court last week for his first public appearance that he “was blackmailed,” according to Fox Indianapolis affiliate WXIN.
Sha was initially arrested on a preliminary charge of murder and was granted a 72-hour continuance on Friday while formal charges were pending, according to ABC Chicago affiliate WLS-TV. When asked by news reporters if he had anything to say to Chheda’s family, Sha replied, “I’m so sorry.”
On Thursday, Sha told Tippecanoe County Magistrate Sara Wyatt that he understood his rights, according to the Post & Courier. He also confirmed that he understood his alleged crimes carried a possible prison term of 45 to 60 years behind bars if convicted.
Prosecutors requested Sha be held without bond, according to NBC News.
Sha, a South Korean student majoring in cyber security, reportedly called 911 at around 12:44 on the morning of Oct. 5 and confessed to the killing.
When police responded to the McCutcheon Hall crime scene, they reported finding Sha with blood on his clothes and body, according to university police records cited by WXIN.
Chheda was found upright in a chair in the pair’s shared room, where responders noted: “blood spatter on the wall, a pool of blood, and a folding knife on the floor.” He was pronounced dead on the scene.
Many of the knife injuries were focused on the victim's neck and head, according to the Post & Courier.
Sha confessed to responders that the knife belonged to him.
Purdue Police Chief Lesley Wiete called the murder “senseless” and “unprovoked.”
Chheda was a senior majoring in data science and was described by past teachers as a “brilliant student” who “possessed admirable character traits that stemmed from a strong family.”
Students at Purdue University held a student-led vigil for Chheda on Wednesday, featuring a speech by school president Mitch Daniels.
“Grief can bring people together,” said Daniels. “Sometimes entire communities, like ours tonight.”
A trial date for Ji Min Sha has yet to be scheduled.
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