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Body of missing Princeton University student has been found

Oct 20, 2022, 10:50 AM | Updated: 6:25 pm
Misrach Ewunetie, 20, was last seen around 3 a.m. Friday, October 14. (Princeton University via CNN...
Misrach Ewunetie, 20, was last seen around 3 a.m. Friday, October 14. (Princeton University via CNN)
(Princeton University via CNN)

(CNN) — The body of missing Princeton University student Misrach Ewunetie was found on campus Thursday, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said.

Her body was found at about 1 p.m. on the facilities grounds, behind tennis courts, according to a statement from Mercer County prosecutor Angelo Onofri and Kenneth Strother Jr., the school’s assistance vice president for public safety.

An autopsy by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner will determine the cause and manner of death, the statement said. There were “no signs of injury and her death does not appear suspicious or criminal in nature.”

In a statement, the university called the death an “unthinkable tragedy.”

“Our hearts go out to her family, her friends and the many others who knew and loved her,” the university said.

“We are planning an opportunity for students to join together and remember Misrach.”

Earlier Thursday, Eunetie’s family said they had been “kept in the dark” by authorities, according to her brother, who added they’re desperate for information and working to put together a timeline of her whereabouts.

Ewunetie, 20, went missing six days ago, prompting university officials to intensify their search for the junior.

Her family was particularly alarmed she missed a meeting regarding her citizenship on Saturday, said her oldest brother, Universe Ewunetie.

“There’s no constant update or interaction with us,” he told CNN by phone on Thursday, before the body was discovered, referring to campus authorities and the prosecutor’s office. “We’re really kept in the dark.”

Universe Ewunetie said authorities told him the investigation will take time. “That’s one thing we don’t have, we don’t have time,” he said.

CNN has sought comment from the prosecutor’s office and the university’s department of public safety about Universe Ewunetie’s claims.

Investigators were searching Lake Carnegie, on Princeton’s campus, and the surrounding area after authorities used bloodhounds to trace Ewunetie’s scent from the dorm to the lake, according to a law enforcement source.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy earlier Thursday tweeted that he has been in touch with various law enforcement agencies regarding the missing student.

Murphy later tweeted he was “heartbroken” by the news of her death.

“Our hearts go out to her family, friends, and fellow students who knew and loved her,” he wrote.

Universe Ewunetie described his sister as a “precious, beautiful soul” who is a “great listener” and “cares about people beyond her.”

The family was “not particularly happy” Ewunetie went to Princeton because it is far from the family home in Ohio, but they “didn’t want to discourage her,” said the brother, who, with other relatives, was putting up fliers about his missing sister on the New Jersey campus.

“It’s very painful. (A) nightmare I cannot wake up from,” he added, fighting back tears. “I wish she’s somewhere out there.”

Universe Ewunetie said their father first tried contacting his sister Friday but didn’t connect and assumed she was busy.

By Saturday, calls and texts were going through, but still, no response — and, by Sunday, the calls were going straight to voicemail.

Family members said they spoke to her roommates, who remembered her sleeping in her dorm room on Friday morning.

Ewunetie was last seen around 3 a.m. near a residential building on the New Jersey campus, according to the university.

The university reported her missing on Monday and had urged anyone with information to contact the Department of Public Safety.

“As part of the continuing efforts to locate missing undergraduate student Misrach Ewunetie ’24, there is an increased law enforcement presence on and around campus today including the use of a helicopter, drones and watercraft,” the university said in an update to the community Wednesday morning.

Ewunetie was volunteering at one of the school’s 11 eating clubs on Thursday night, the president of the club told the student newspaper, The Daily Princetonian. Terrace Club President Alexander Maravcsik told the paper Ewunetie was on “duty” doing housekeeping work during a live music performance at the club.

“On Thursday night, one of our members who was initially signed up for duty was unable to attend our event, and Misrach volunteered to cover their shift. After the club had closed and all of the duty responsibilities had been fulfilled, Misrach — as well as the other members on duty — left for the night,” Maravcsik wrote to the paper.

Sara Elagad, executive director of the non-profit Minds Matter Cleveland, told CNN that Ewunetie’s disappearance was unusual. Ewunetie was a 2020 graduate of the Minds Matter Cleveland program, which looks to close the education gap of high-achieving low-income students.

“It is not at all in character for her to purposely go off the radar or be out of touch with family,” Elagad said. “We are supporting her family as they assist law enforcement efforts to safely locate her.”

Ewunetie was a graduate of the Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, according to a statement from the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

“The Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School community is profoundly saddened at the news of the passing of Misrach Ewunetie, a former honor student, class of 2020, who was found deceased today on the campus of Princeton University,” Deacon James Armstrong said in a statement.

In an email to students, W. Rochelle Calhoun, Princeton’s vice president for campus life, said Ewunetie’s family contacted the school Sunday night to request a well-being check after not hearing from her for several days.

“Since Sunday, DPS has been actively working with the Prosecutor’s Office and with state and local police departments to follow all leads in the search for Misrach,” Calhoun said in the email.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Misrach Ewunetie’s first name.


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Body of missing Princeton University student has been found