The family of a 19-year-old Indian-origin student, who was found dead in February under mysterious circumstances in the US, have alleged foul play and disputed the cause of his death given by police.
The results of a second autopsy commissioned by Pravin Varughese's family showed that the Southern Illinois University student died as a result of blunt force trauma to the head, even as authorities maintain that he died of hypothermia with no evidence of foul play.
The body of Varughese from Morton Grove was found on February 18 in a wooded area in Carbondale, Illinois, about a week after he went missing.
The findings by independent forensic pathologist Ben Margolis raise more questions in the mysterious death of Varughese, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The Jackson County coroner's office, however, maintains he died of hypothermia with no evidence of foul play.
"I knew there was something wrong," Varughese's mother, Lovely Varughese, told the daily on Saturday.
"But I didn't expect it to be this big," she said.
Margolis, founder of Autopsy Center of Chicago, said the autopsy he performed found "significant injuries" to Varughese's face.
The sophomore criminal justice major suffered four different blows to the face and head, all of which could not have been caused by a single impact, such as falling on a rock or hitting a tree.
Varughese's body also showed an injury to his forearm and his left thigh, Margolis said, as well as bruises below his knees and scratch marks that could have been caused by the difficult terrain.
Margolis, however, stopped short of issuing a determination of how Varughese sustained the head injuries, saying he still needed to see initial police and coroner records.
"The cause of death is blunt force injury, but the cause of those injuries is pending further investigation," he said.
Varughese's mother, meanwhile, said Margolis' report gives credence to her questions of how authorities have handled her son's death investigation.
"It gives me a feeling that I'm not crazy," she said.
"The instinct as a mother, and the knowledge as a nurse, I think it paid off."
County coroner Thomas Kupferer said Saturday that the forensic pathologist who performed the initial autopsy did not indicate any blunt force injuries.