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Missing Indian-American student found dead in Chicago

Chicago: A missing Indian-American student Pravin Varughese was found dead in a wooded area on Tuesday, nearly a week after he was last seen, according to a media report.

Police found the body of Southern Illinois University student from suburban Morton Grove in Illinois at about 9:45 a.m. Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune reported citing authorities in Carbondale.

Varughese had last been seen around 11 pm Feb 12 leaving a party about three miles from where his body was discovered.

The 19-year-old second year student and criminal justice major had walked into the wooded area on the eastern edge of town after getting into a "dispute" with someone at the party, the newspaper said citing authorities.

That man was attempting to drive Varughese home when the dispute started, police said.

Carbondale police, according to the Tribune, said little about the nature of the dispute, other than they believed Varughese exited the vehicle on his own accord.

His sister, Priya Varughese, 20, had said phone records showed her brother called a friend in Chicago at 12:30 am Thursday, about 90 minutes after he reportedly left the party.

The friend told her it sounded like her brother might have been running or arguing with someone, she said.

Varughese's Twitter account showed a tweet at 11:17 pm that night reading: "Bloody knuckles... guess I was in a fight #backdown."

Police said Varughese's body showed no obvious signs of trauma, and no evidence thus far points to foul play in his death.

Rather, Carbondale Police Chief Jody O'Guinn said cold weather might have played a role.

Varughese was wearing jeans and a shirt when he entered the woods, the chief said, and the area's "difficult terrain and low temperatures are believed to have contributed to Pravin's difficulty finding his way out of the wooded area."

An autopsy and toxicology report have been ordered, police said. The autopsy could take place Wednesday.

Varughese's family and friends had travelled to Carbondale to assist in the search. They had offered a reward of $15,000 for information on his whereabouts.

University Chancellor Rita Cheng issued a statement offering condolences to Varughese's family and urging grieving students to visit the campus counseling center if needed.

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