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Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office releases cause of death for Misrach Ewunetie ’24

<h5>Flowers along the tow path near Lake Carnegie.</h5>
<h6>Samantha Lopez-Rico / The Daily Princetonian</h6>
Flowers along the tow path near Lake Carnegie.
Samantha Lopez-Rico / The Daily Princetonian

Content Warning: The following article includes mention of student death and suicide. University Counseling services are available at 609-258-3141, and the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 988 or +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 Office of the Mercer County Prosecutor announced that after the completion of an autopsy, it has ruled the death of Misrach Ewunetie ’24 a suicide, according to a press release issued on Wednesday, Dec. 28.

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The Office ruled that the cause of death was toxicity from a combination of medications, which are commonly used to treat depression and anxiety.

This news comes more than two months after Ewunetie was found dead on the University’s campus on Oct. 20.

The University Office of Communications declined to comment.

Vice President for Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun acknowledged the long wait for a completed autopsy report in a Wednesday afternoon message to all undergraduates. “The long wait for definitive news about what led to her death has been challenging for all of us, and especially for those close to Misrach,” she wrote.

Ewunetie, a junior in the sociology department from Euclid, Ohio, was last seen near her dorm in Scully Hall in the early morning on Friday, Oct. 14. She was reported missing by her family on Sunday, Oct. 16.

A facilities employee discovered Ewunetie’s body on campus grounds behind the tennis courts on Oct. 20. At that time, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement that “there were no obvious signs of injury and her death does not appear suspicious or criminal in nature.” 

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Throughout the autopsy process, prosecutors and University administrators have repeatedly affirmed that there was no evidence of foul play.

On Nov. 7, University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss wrote to the ‘Prince,’ “The case remains open pending a ​finding from the medical examiner on the cause of death, but law enforcement authorities ​still affirm there is no evidence or suspicion of foul play.”

Following the release of the cause of death, Casey DeBlasio, spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office, wrote that, “Out of respect for Ms. Ewunetie’s family, and at their request, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office will not be providing additional information.”

Calhoun echoed this in her statement to the campus community. “During an investigation, communication is often limited to protect evidence-gathering, to avoid misleading the public, and out of consideration for the family,” she wrote. 

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“At no point during this investigation did law enforcement authorities believe campus safety was compromised,” she added.

A GoFundMe set up shortly after Ewunetie’s passing raised more than $150,000, as of Dec. 28, to assist the family “with the expenses associated with a funeral, an independent autopsy, and significant travel.”

The Prosecutor’s Office had ended its involvement in the investigation as of Oct. 24, according to a statement to The Daily Princetonian from DeBlasio. 

A full timeline of developments following Ewunetie’s disappearance until Oct. 20, as reported by the ‘Prince,’ can be found here.

The University will hold a virtual gathering for students on Thursday, Dec. 29 at 9 p.m. EST. The event will be co-hosted by Rev. Alison Boden GS ’70, Dean of Religious Life and of the Chapel, AnneMarie Luijendijk, Head of New College West, and Jonathan Pastor, Associate Director, Counseling and Psychological Services.

This story is breaking and will be updated as further information becomes available.

Katherine Dailey is a Head News Editor who often covers breaking news, politics, and University affairs. 

Tess Weinreich is an Assistant News Editor and features contributor for the Prince.

Isabel Yip is an Assistant News Editor who typically covers University Affairs and student life.

Please direct any corrections requests to corrections[at]dailyprincetonian.com.

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