- Dr. Manish Chheda expressed regret for not being able to help his son and said his passing came for no sensible reason.
Dr. Manish Chheda has described his son, Varun Chheda as a “humble” young man who “never cared much about material things and liked to keep it simple.” The physician was fighting tears as he spoke of his deceased son, a senior at Purdue, at a vigil held at the university on Oct. 12, as reported by NBC affiliate WTHR 13. “I really enjoyed being his dad very much,” he told the gathering of family members and close friends of Varun Chheda who was killed in his dorm room by his roommate, Jin Min Sha, on Oct. 5.
He spoke about his love for gaming, WTHR said, which he was engaged in when he was murdered. The 20-year-old was heard screaming the moment he was killed as his friends listened to his chilling cries for help despite their headsets while playing an online video game with him. A preliminary autopsy revealed that he died due to “multiple sharp force traumatic injuries,” according to the Purdue Exponent.
Meanwhile, Sha, who made his first court appearance on Oct. 7, told Tippecanoe County Magistrate Sarah Wyatt that he was “blackmailed,” CBS affiliate WLFI-TV reported. Sha, an international student from South Korea, pursuing a major in cybersecurity, had called the police at about 12:45 a.m. on Oct. 5, to say he had fatally stabbed his roommate in their room at McCutcheon Hall. Police found Chheda in a chair and Sha covered in what appeared to be blood, according to WLFI.
Varun Chheda graduated from Park Tudor High School in 2020 and was a semifinalist in the National Merit Scholarship Program the year he graduated. He was also a candidate in the 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program and ran cross country in 2019.
Dr. Chheda called his son the family’s “star that burned brightly,” WTHR reported. The distraught father said his son’s passing came “for no sensible reason whatsoever. Something like this shouldn’t happen to a student in a college dorm room on a school night, just sitting at their desk.” Varun Chheda “just texted his mom an hour before and told her goodnight and told her he loved her,” he said.
He expressed regret for not being able to help his son, and admitted that he would “gladly change places with you because you never deserved this.” The family plans to spread Varun’s ashes on his upcoming 21st birthday next month, he said, adding that he plans to have a drink in honor of his son.
Attendees of the vigil also heard from Ben Carpenter, Varun’s longtime friend, per WTHR. “He taught me the importance of genuine gratitude, as well as the importance of bettering myself for those around me.”
The day after his murder, hundreds of students attended a vigil at in front of Purdue’s Unfinished P sculpture on campus, a symbol of all the students who don’t get to finish their Purdue experience. WTHR reported.
Arunabh Sinha, an Indiana University student who has known Varun since first grade, took to social media to remember his friend. “Varun was many things but above all, he was brilliant, humble, ethical, and family-driven,” he wrote in a Facebook post. “My sister and I were lucky to attend school with Varun 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. Rest in peace, Varun. We will miss you dearly.”
Sumeeth Guda, a senior who took a class with Varun Chheda called him “a straight shooter, a good person and a really good student.” The mathematics and science student said the two had worked together on group projects before and described Chheda as a diligent person and a hard worker, praising him for his ability to work in a team setting,” he told the university paper. “I hope to see justice be done.”
(Photos from Purdue University Facebook page)