An independent autopsy shows blunt-force trauma on the body of an SIU student who died in February.
The autopsy on Pravin Varughese’s body was performed by Dr. Ben Margolis of the Autopsy Center of Chicago February 21, a few days after his body was found February 18. The family requested it, along with another one previously reported on, after receiving advice that they should have the body independently studied.
The autopsy shows multiple injuries, including bruises on the left thigh, three separate locations on his head including the bridge of his nose, the left side of his forehead and the right side of his forehead that wrapped around the side of his head, and what Margolis calls a ‘defensive wound’ on his right forearm.
Margolis: “Which was significant for a couple reasons. One, is because of the location. That’s a common location for a defensive injury… the other reason we were very concerned is because this was the one that was very deep, down to the muscle, and muscle injuries are usually not self-inflicted.”
Margolis says the bruise on Varughese’s forearm started healing before he died. He also said there was blood inside Varughese’s nose, more-so on the left side.
Margolis says he could not make an exact determination on the cause of death because he did not have more information from authorities, including the initial autopsy report, crime scene photos or witness testimony.
The Jackson County Coroner’s office has not released results of their autopsy, citing an ongoing investigation.
I talked with Margolis about what the location of the injuries means in relation to an alleged altercation between Varughese and another person inside a vehicle on Route 13 in Carbondale the night he went missing.
Ragusa: “Is it possible these injuries might have been sustained while he (Varughese) was still inside a car?”
Margolis: “Yeah, for sure. The analysis of the body doesn’t have that exact information that we could distinguish that. In fact, the left (sic) punch mark on the left thigh would be easy enough for a driver to reach over with his right hand and cause that.
Carbondale Police said after the body was found that foul play is not suspected, but the family contests that ruling based on the possible altercation Varughese had with the person in the vehicle. Police initially said Varughese was getting a ride home from the person when he fled into the woods on February 12 or 13.
Margolis says an independent toxicology report came back negative for drugs with long half-lives, but substances like alcohol could have metabolized and left his system by the time he died. Margolis says he could not determine the time of death, either.
There were also scrapes on Varughese’s left hand, but Margolis says he couldn’t determine where they came from. There was also blood inside Varughese’s skull, but Margolis says that could be attributed to a previous autopsy.
Margolis says the body was in good condition when he received it. The cold temperature preserved the body until it was embalmed.
Carbondale Police, the Jackson County State’s Attorney’s office and the county coroner’s office have declined comment citing an ongoing investigation.