Purdue University student killed in residence hall, police say; roommate in custody

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — A Purdue University student was charged with murder Wednesday after his roommate was found dead overnight in their dorm room, police and university officials said.

Varun Manish Chheda, 20, of Indianapolis, was found dead in his room in McCutcheon residence hall on the west side of campus early Wednesday, police said.

His roommate, Ji Min Sha, had called 911 at 12:44 a.m. to alert authorities to Chheda's death, Purdue University Police Chief Lesley Wiete said at a news conference.

Sha, 22, was later taken into custody on a murder charge, Wiete said.

A preliminary autopsy report ruled Chheda's death a homicide and found he died from "multiple sharp-force traumatic injuries," the Tippecanoe County Coroner's Office said. A final autopsy was pending toxicology results.

Chheda was a senior studying data science.    

Photo of McCutcheon Hall on Purdue University campus, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind.
Photo of McCutcheon Hall on Purdue University campus, on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022, in West Lafayette, Ind.

"If we did not have the suspect in custody as quickly as we did, we would have absolutely sent out a Purdue alert," Wiete said, adding the two students were the only residents of the dorm room where Chheda was found and there was no further threat to the campus from the suspect.

Neither of the students was asleep at the time of Chheda's death, Wiete said.

"I believe this was unprovoked and senseless," she said.

Students living near the scene were moved to other rooms, and the university made counselors available, said Purdue spokesperson Trevor Peters.

"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 Wednesday. 

A homicide investigation by the Purdue University Police Department is ongoing, Wiete said. She did not provide a motive. 

The last homicide on Purdue's approximately 60,000-student campus occurred on Jan. 14, 2014, when Cody Cousins killed Andrew Boldt in the electrical engineering building. Cousins pleaded guilty, was sentenced and killed himself in prison later that year.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: Purdue University student killed in McCutcheon Hall; roommate charged