Family’s doubts: NJ officials not saying how missing Princeton student died
PRINCETON – The family of a Princeton University student who went missing and was found dead on Thursday next to the campus tennis courts is doubting the investigation's findings.
The Mercer County Prosecutor's Office has concluded its case, saying publicly that the death does not appear to be suspicious or criminal.
But the prosecutor also has not said much of anything else to the public, leaving the community to wonder how and why Misrach Ewunetie, a bright young Ivy League junior, is now being mourned. Prosecutors, for example, have not said whether Ewunetie died by accident or by suicide.
Prosecutor: Death not suspicious
Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri said there appeared to be no signs of injury and Ewunetie's death does not appear to be suspicious.
The U.S. Sun reported that the family disagrees with that conclusion because the results from a full autopsy were not available.
Her brother, Universe Ewunetie, said the area around the tennis courts where Misrach Ewunetie's body was found by a university employee appears to have been so dense that it required being cut back to remove her body.
Before the body was found, he had told The Sun the prosecutor's office kept the family "in the dark" about the investigation.
Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office spokeswoman Casey DeBlasio said the Middlesex County Medical Examiner's Office performed an autopsy on Ewunetie Friday but it will be several weeks before final results are released.
"They will not rule on a cause and manner of death until all of the test results, including toxicology, are received. That will most likely be weeks," DeBlasio said.
University says campus is safe with increased patrols
DeBlasio said Ewunetie's phone and other belongings were found with her body behind the tennis courts Thursday afternoon. She also said the prosecutor's office involvement in the investigation is complete and referred further questions to Princeton University's Office of Public Safety.
Dean Jill Dolan and Vice President W. Rochelle Calhoun said in a joint statement that while there is no danger to the campus, the university has increased patrols and staff in student living areas.
"As a result, the Department of Public Safety is confident it’s safe for students to return to campus from fall break," the school said.
'She will be forever missed'
Two campus candlelight vigils were held Monday night for Misrach Ewunetie.
More than 500 people including her parents and brother attended the vigil held by the Princeton Ethiopian and Eritrean Student Association, according to The Daily Princetonian.
“Misrach was exceptionally kind and always went above and beyond. I would tell her in passing about my musical performances and she would always, unasked but appreciated, videotape songs for me and send them to me,” her friend Jamie Feder was quoted as saying by the campus newspaper. “She was a great friend, beautiful, smart, and funny. She will be forever missed.”
The school's vigil at the University Chapel was attended by approximately 120 people, including the school's dean.
A GoFundMe page has also been created to help her family with funeral expenses and to pay for an independent autopsy and travel from their home in Ohio.
"All who knew her can attest that Misrach was simply a spectacular person. She was always willing to help and went out of her way to lend a hand," fundraising organizer Nate Tesfaye said on the site. "She was incredibly generous with her love and her time. When we were down, she lifted our spirits. Misrach was selfless and helped many without expecting a thank you."