A ruling on the cause and manner of death of a Princeton University student could take weeks, a county district attorney’s spokesman said Friday, after his body was found near the campus tennis courts following a days-long search.
Misrach Ewunetie, 20, of Ohio, was found dead Thursday evening on the New Jersey campus, ending a search that began last weekend after his family reported being unable to reach him.
An autopsy was being performed Friday by a medical examiner’s agent. However, the cause and manner of death will not be determined until the results of toxicology and other tests are returned, and the results could take several weeks, said Casey DeBlasio, spokeswoman for the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office.
Ewuneti’s body was found in Princeton’s field behind the tennis court, authorities said. There were no signs of injury, and the death did not immediately appear suspicious, the Prosecutor’s Office said he said Thursday.
Ewunetie, a junior, was last seen on October 14 near an apartment building, the university said. Roommates recalled him sleeping in his bedroom that morning, Ewuneti’s family said.
Ewunetie’s family contacted the school Sunday night to request a welfare check after not hearing from him for several days, Princeton’s vice president for campus life wrote in a message to students.
The school’s public safety department began searching for him that night and issued a campus alert the next day asking for information on his whereabouts, the school said.
Ewunetie was volunteering at one of the school’s 11 eating clubs on Oct. 13, The Daily Princetonian student newspaper reported. Student leaders at the Terrace Club told the newspaper that Ewunetie was “on duty” doing homework during a live music performance at the club.
“Thursday night, one of our members originally signed up for duty was unable to attend our event, and Misrach volunteered to fill his shift. After the club closed and all duties were completed, Misrach, along with the rest of the guard, left for the night.” , the club wrote to the newspaper.
His death is an “unthinkable tragedy,” the university said in a news release Thursday.
“We are organizing an opportunity for students to come together and remember Misrach,” the school said.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who said he had been in contact with law enforcement agencies during the search, tweeted Thursday that he was heartbroken by the news of her death.
“Our hearts go out to his family, friends and classmates who knew and loved him,” he wrote.
An autopsy was being conducted by the Middlesex County medical examiner, DeBlasio said. This is adjacent to Mercer County, where Princeton is located.
During the search, Ewunetie’s brother Universe Ewunetie described her sister Thursday as a “precious and beautiful soul,” a “great listener” and “someone who cares about people beyond herself.” The brother and other relatives were putting up leaflets about their missing sister on campus.
Universe Ewunetie said the father tried to contact his sister on October 14 but she did not connect and assumed he was busy. By October 15, calls and texts were going through, but still unanswered, and by Sunday, the calls were going straight to voicemail.
His family was particularly worried because he missed a meeting about his citizenship on Saturday, Universo Ewunetie said.
Misrach Ewunetie was a graduate of Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland said.
“Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School community is deeply saddened by the death of Misrach Ewunetie, an alumnus of the Class of 2020, who was found dead today on the campus of Princeton University,” said Deacon James Armstrong.
Non-profit group Minds Matter Cleveland Ewunetie said she was “devastated” to lose her Class of 2020 member.
“We hold his family and all others who loved him close to our hearts,” the group said.