Purdue University Student Allegedly Killed by Roommate Remembered by Friends as 'Brilliant,' 'Family-Driven'

A photo of Varun Chheda was shared by the Sycamore School, of which he was an alumnus, and graduated in 2016.
A photo of Varun Chheda was shared by the Sycamore School, of which he was an alumnus, and graduated in 2016.Facebook

Varun Manish Chheda, a 20-year-old senior from Indianapolis who was studying data science, reportedly died of "multiple sharp force traumatic injuries" after an incident allegedly involving his roommate unfolded in a room in McCutcheon Hall.

The Purdue University student found killed, allegedly by his roommate, in their dorm room on the Indiana school's campus was remembered by loved ones as an amazing young man who was destined to go on to do great things in life.

Varun Manish Chheda reportedly died of "multiple sharp force traumatic injuries" after an incident allegedly involving his roommate, 22-year-old Ji Min “Jimmy” Sha, unfolded in a room on the first floor of McCutcheon Hall, officials said. 

Sha, a 22-year-old junior cybersecurity major and international student from Korea, was taken into custody on a murder charge after calling 911 around 12:45 a.m., alerting police to Chheda's death, Purdue University Police Chief Lesley Wiete told reporters during a news conference Wednesday.

The manner of his death was ruled a homicide, preliminary autopsy results showed, according to published reports.

“I believe this was unprovoked and senseless,” Wiete said. Both men were awake at the time of the incident, she noted. 

Chheda was a 20-year-old from Indianapolis who was studying data science at the University. He was a senior.

"Losing a friend like Varun hurts hard," his friend Arunabh Sinha wrote on Facebook. Sinha wrote that he and his sister attended school with Chheda for 12 years. 

"Varun touched lives at every turn he took, from Sycamore, Park Tudor, and Purdue, to everywhere outside of school he was involved. He was destined to make a large impact in our world and while we have been robbed of this opportunity, I am still highly appreciative to have known him since 1st grade," he wrote.

"As Varun’s friends and I have reflected on this great loss, we have recognized some key elements to what made him so special," Sinha wrote.

Sinha went on to list Chheda's many attributes, noting, "Varun was many things but above all, he was brilliant, humble, ethical, and family-driven."

Chheda often assumed the role of mentor in academic settings, but also "consistently strived to be a better version of himself, and showed great respect towards everyone and their goals," Sinha wrote. 

And he was as driven by morality as he was by filial piety, his friend noted.

"Varun always chose to take the route of integrity," Sinha wrote. "He would do what is right especially if no one was watching, from academics to chess and video games. He refused to take shortcuts and was willing to put in the effort to make the morally sound decision. 

"Most importantly, Varun was a bright son to his parents and a star role model to his younger sister," Sinha continued. "Even I looked up to him as I noticed how deeply he cared for the well being of his sister, Kavya. Our hearts hurt deeply for her, his parents, and his family all around.

"Rest in peace, Varun. We will miss you dearly," he wrote. 

Chheda was an alumnus of the Sycamore School, which he attended from kindergarten through eighth grade. He graduated there in 2016. 

"We will miss him. Varun was a brilliant student, funny, and well liked by his classmates. He possessed admirable character traits that stemmed from a strong family," Diane Borgmann, Sycamore's Head of School, said in a statement

Chheda delivered a speech at his class's graduation from the Sycamore School. 

"What a class we are. Individually we have all achieved great heights, be it in music, art, science, math, literature, history, language, or sports," he said. "Each of these achievements has not just been recognized at school, but at local, state, national, and even international levels. Sycamore provides an experience not found anywhere else. I have made many friends. Relationships have been built on mutual respect and admiration and I will cherish them. It is more than a school; it is a positive, healthy environment, where students, like young birds grow, and take flight."

Chedda went on to attend the Indianapolis private school Park Tudor. “The entire Park Tudor community is incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of Varun Chheda, Park Tudor class of 2020. Our prayers are with his family at this difficult time," Dennis Bisgaard, interim head of school, said in a statement to NBC News.

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels also released a statement to students and staff Wednesday. "This is as tragic an event as we can imagine happening on our campus and our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by this terrible event," the statement read.

Authorities did not release any details about a possible motive. The investigation into Chheda's killing is ongoing. Sha is being held on a preliminarily charge of murder without bond in Tippecanoe County Jail, according to authorities and booking records. No bond has been set for him, records showed.

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