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A Purdue University student accused of fatally stabbing his Indian American roommate will make his next court appearance Dec. 2.

Ji Min “Jimmy” Sha, has been charged with murder in the death of Varun Manish Chedda, 20. In a court appearance on Oct. 13, Sha was charged with one count of murder. He is being held without bond.

Motive

A preliminary autopsy conducted by the Tippecanoe County coroner’s office indicated that Chheda had died of “multiple sharp force trauma injuries to the head and neck.” The manner of death has been ruled a homicide. The results of the forensic toxicology examination are pending.  

In a response to an India Currents inquiry, Tippecanoe County Sheriff Robert Goldsmith confirmed that Sha is being held in Tippicanoe County Jail in Lafayette, Indiana.

Crime Scene

The stabbing is believed to have occurred in the early hours of Oct. 5, in a door room on the first floor of McCutcheon Hall on the Purdue college campus in West Lafayette, Indiana. At around 12: 45 A.M., Sha called 911 to report himself and stayed put in the room until officers arrived.  

On arrival, police found the victim slumped in a chair, surrounded by blood splatter on the wall, a pool of blood and a folding knife on the floor. Sha had blood on himself and on his clothes. He was immediately taken into custody and brought in for questioning. 

‘I Love My Family’

Chedda, a senior from Indianapolis, was studying data science. Sha, 22, a junior, had been studying cybersecurity. He is an international student from South Korea. 

A video, posted on social media, shows campus police escorting Sha out of a patrol car in handcuffs as reporters wait for him. As he is taken inside the courthouse, he’s asked by a reporter, “Can you tell us why you did it?” A seemingly frazzled Sha mumbles, “I love my family.” He then repeats that statement. While leaving the building, he said, “I’m sorry.” 

Senseless Death

In a statement, Purdue University president Mitch Daniels said Chheda’s death was tragic. 

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by this terrible event,” he said.

Earlier, Purdue University Chief of Police, Lesley Weite, told reporters that the fatal attack was “senseless,” adding that both roommates were awake when the incident happened. 

Screams On the Call

Arunabh Sinha, a close friend of Chedda, who has known him for 12 years, told NBC that Chheda was on Discord — a social platform popular with youngsters, which lets you make audio and video calls as well as text — gaming with his friends when they suddenly heard screams on the call.  

In a tribute posted on social media, Sinha wrote: “Losing a friend like Varun hurts hard. [He] was many things, but above all, he was brilliant, humble, ethical and family-driven. Despite his brilliance, Varun never let on that he was a finished product. He consistently strived to be a better version of himself and showed great respect towards everyone and their goals.”

“Most importantly, Varun was a bright son to his parents and a star role model to his younger sister, Kavya.” 

‘Good Night, Mama’

On the evening of the incident, scores of Purdue students got together for a vigil at the “Unfinished Block P,” an alphabetical sculpture that honors students who did not get to complete their Purdue experience, the student media, the Exponent reported.

Chheda’s mother Seema Dhediya told ABC News that the final text she received from her son, at 11:45 p.m. on the night of his death, read simply: “Good night, Mama.”

Alakananda Mookerjee

Alakananda Mookerjee lives in Brooklyn, and is a Francophile.