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Ewunetie family raises suspicions about circumstances of death as county prosecutor says no ‘criminal activity’

<h6>Candace Do / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Candace Do / The Daily Princetonian

Content Warning: The following article includes mention of student death. University Counseling services are available at 609-258-3141, and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at +1 (800) 273-TALK (8255). A Crisis Text Line is also available in the United States; text HOME to 741741. Students can contact residential college staff and the Office of Religious Life for other support and resources.

The belongings of Misrach Ewunetie ’24, including her phone, “were found with her body,” according to a new statement by Casey DeBlasio, a spokesperson for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office, shared with The Daily Princetonian on Monday.

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The Office’s involvement in the investigation into Ewunetie’s death is “complete,” DeBlasio added in an email.

“As there is no evidence of any criminal activity associated with Ms. Ewunetie’s death, any further inquiries can be directed” to the University’s Department of Public Safety (DPS), she wrote to the ‘Prince.’

An autopsy was conducted on Friday by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office, according to DeBlasio. The cause and manner of death will not be reported until all test results, including toxicology results, are received. 

“My understanding from the [Medical Examiner’s] Office is that it will be weeks,” DeBlasio added. She also noted that in her experience this timeline was “not unusual or longer than comparable cases.”

Ewunetie’s family still has questions surrounding the circumstances of her death, however. Her brother Universe told the U.S. Sun, “The area she was found makes us feel it was suspicious, some trees had to be cut when they were removing Misrach.”

“She was talking to me about a savings account she was going to open, her interview, buying clothes and shipping them to Cleveland, and volunteering at her student club organization,” he added, according to the Sun.

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Ewunetie’s body was discovered by a University facilities worker behind tennis courts on south campus, according to the statement released by the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office on Thursday.

The ‘Prince’ reached out to Universe Ewunetie and did not hear back in time for publication. DPS also did not respond to requests for comment by press time.

A timeline of what is known of the situation, as well as a map of relevant locations, can be found below:

Thursday, Oct. 13

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11:05 p.m.: Ewunetie volunteers to fill a vacant “Duty” spot at the Terrace Club, during a live music performance.

11:21 p.m.: Ewunetie arrives at Terrace, according to footage seen by the ‘Prince.’

Friday, Oct. 14

2:33 a.m.: Ewunetie leaves Terrace, according to footage seen by the ‘Prince.’

Around 3 a.m.: Ewunetie is last seen near Scully Hall by a suitemate, brushing her teeth before bed, according to her brother Universe in an interview with ABC News

Around 4:30 a.m.: Ewunetie’s roommate returns to their dorm and Misrach is not there, according to her brother Universe in an interview with ABC News.

8 a.m.: Ewunetie does not attend her scheduled precept, according to her preceptor, Julia Byeon GS.

Saturday, Oct. 15

Ewunetie misses an appointment for her American citizenship application, and her family is informed that she was a no-show, according to the U.S. Sun.

Sunday, Oct. 16

Around 3:27 a.m: Ewunetie’s phone pings in the Penns Neck neighborhood, according to her brother Universe in the U.S. Sun and ABC News.

Evening: Ewunetie is reported missing by her family to DPS when her family asks for a wellness check.

Monday, Oct. 17

9:19 p.m.: A TigerAlert is sent to the campus community stating that Ewunetie has been reported missing and asking for information on her whereabouts.

Wednesday, Oct. 19 

10:50 a.m: A message is sent to all undergraduates announcing an increased law enforcement presence on campus.

3:31 p.m.: An email from Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun states that the search for Ewunetie is still ongoing.

5:13 p.m.: The ‘Prince’ notes increased police activity near the boathouse on Lake Carnegie.

Thursday, Oct. 20

Around 1 p.m.: Ewunetie’s body is found behind the tennis courts on the south end of campus by a facilities employee.

Around 3 p.m.: NBC News first reports that Ewunetie’s body has been found on campus.

3:11 p.m.: The ‘Prince’ notes police activity in the parking lot next to the tennis courts.

3:39 p.m.: The Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office releases a statement announcing the discovery of Ewunetie’s body. There are “no obvious signs of injury and her death does not appear suspicious or criminal in nature.”

4 p.m.: An email from VP Calhoun is sent to all undergraduates sharing the news of Ewunetie’s death.


Editor’s Note: This piece has been updated to reflect information from Julia Byeon GS.

Katherine Dailey is a head news editor who often covers breaking news, politics, and University affairs. Please direct any corrections requests to corrections@dailyprincetonian.com.

Head News Editor Drew Somerville contributed reporting.

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