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About 200 Attend Memorial Service for SIU Student

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CARBONDALE, Ill. (AP) - About 200 people attended a weekend memorial service for a 19-year-old Southern Illinois University student whose body was found in February.

Pravin Varughese was discovered in a wooded area in Carbondale nearly a week after he went missing following a dispute with an acquaintance. He was remembered Saturday as an aspiring police officer who liked to make people laugh and lived life to its fullest.

Authorities have said there was no evidence of foul play in the death of the criminal justice major from suburban Chicago. They say he likely died of cold exposure. But friends and family members who attended the service in Carbondale said they still have questions about Varughese’s death.

While Varughese’s family insists he had bruises on his body and say lab tests showed no signs of drugs or alcohol in his system, Carbondale Police Chief Jody O’Guinn has said that’s “not completely accurate.” A full toxicology report hasn’t been released and family members said they’re still waiting for an autopsy report as well.

“Pravin is my brother, my own flesh and blood, and I refuse to back down until I get answers that make sense,” Priya Varughese said.

Lovely Varughese said she wants more information from local officials about what happened to her son. She has collected signatures on a petition asking for additional details.

“I’m not trying to blame anyone or point fingers,” the mother said. “We just demand answers.”

Carbondale Acting Mayor Don Monty attended Saturday’s service.

“I really, really understand how hard this has been for the family, and I assure you that here in Carbondale we have done and will continue to do all we can to find all the circumstances, so that everybody can feel confident in the end as to what happened,” he said. “That is the most we can do.”

© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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