A Princeton college student whose disappearance late last week sparked a massive search was found dead on the edge of campus Thursday afternoon, authorities said. A facility employee discovered Misrach Ewunetie’s body near the university’s tennis courts around 1 p.m. On Thursday, Mercer County District Attorney Angelo Onofri and Kenneth Strother Jr., Princeton’s vice president of public safety, said in a statement.
There were “no obvious signs of injury and his death does not appear suspicious or criminal in nature,” they said, adding that an autopsy was ordered to determine the 20-year-old student’s cause of death. “Misrach’s death is an unthinkable tragedy. Our hearts go out to her family, her friends, and the many others who knew and loved her,” the university’s vice president for campus life, W. Rochelle Calhoun, said in a statement.
The tennis courts are close to where authorities said Ewunetie was last. seen around 3 a.m. Friday, in the vicinity of the Scully Hall student residence building. Her family asked Princeton to check on her Sunday night after not hearing from her for several days, the school said. On Monday night, university officials issued an alert that she was missing and asked the campus community for help locating her.
The night before, Ewunetie, a junior, volunteered during a music event at the Terrace Club, one of Princeton’s 11 food clubs, according to the Daily Princetonian. Many college seniors socialize and eat at off-campus clubs. After the club closed, she and other service members “went out for the night,” student officials at the club told the newspaper. The school said Tuesday that authorities were using a helicopter, drones and boats in the search, and increased its police presence on campus as efforts to find Ewunetie continued.
Ewunetie’s brother, Universe Ewunetie, described her to NBC News as “a very smart and empathetic person who cares about people.”“She is loved and cared for, and she is missed,” he said. The family is originally from Ethiopia, he told the outlet. Ewunetie grew up in Euclid, Ohio, and Princeton is her only connection to New Jersey, she said. She added that her phone appeared to lose connection on Sunday. In an interview with CNN, Sara Elagad, executive director of Minds Matter Cleveland, said Ewunetie is a 2020 graduate of the nonprofit program, which is designed to prepare low-income, high-achieving students for success in college.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) sent a message of condolences via Twitter on Thursday, saying he was “heartbroken” by the news. “Our hearts go out to her family, friends and fellow students who knew and loved her,” Murphy said in the tweet. Princeton said the university is planning a memorial for Ewunetie and will announce details at a later date.