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Missing Princeton Student Died from Suicide, Prosecutors Say

Misrach Ewunetie

Misrach Ewunetie

A missing Princeton University student whose body was found on the outskirts of campus a week after she disappeared in October died from suicide, New Jersey officials have announced.

Misrach Ewunetie, 20, had vanished after last being seen on Oct. 14 near a dormitory building.

The Office of the Mercer County Prosecutor posted an update to the investigation into her death on Wednesday, noting that an autopsy revealed that Ewunetie had the antidepressant bupropion, the antidepressant escitalopram, and the antihistamine hydroxyzine in her system.

“The cause of her death was determined to be ‘Bupropion, Escitalopram, and Hydroxyzine Toxicity,'” prosecutors said.

Authorities did not specify why they believe Ewunetie’s death to be a suicide as opposed to an accidental overdose.

“Out of respect for Ms. Ewunetie’s family, and at their request, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office will not be providing additional information,” prosecutor’s spokesperson Casey A. DeBlasio said.

Ewunetie, who belonged to the Princeton University class of 2024, was last seen the early morning of Oct. 14 in the area of the Scully Hall dorm building, authorities previously said. It sparked a nearly weeklong search for the young woman, who was valedictorian at her high school in Cleveland, Ohio, and was attending Princeton on a full four-year scholarship.

Her brother Universe Ewunetie described her disappearance as out of character.

“She doesn’t have any personal problems that I’m aware of,” he told the US Sun in an Oct. 19 report. The family is certain she did not have mental health challenges, he said.

Ewunetie did not show up on Oct. 15 to her interview regarding her application for American citizenship, Universe said. She grew up in Ohio after her family arrived in the states from Ethiopia in 2008.

Universe spoke of his then-missing sister in glowing terms.

“She is the gem of the house,” he said. “Their only daughter and the youngest. She is very loved.”

That search tragically ended on Oct. 20. Authorities said her death did not appear to involve foul play.

“Ms. Ewunetie’s body was found outside on the Facilities grounds behind the tennis courts at approximately 1 p.m. on Thursday by a Facilities employee,” prosecutors said in a statement at the time. “An autopsy by the Middlesex County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine Ms. Ewunetie’s cause and manner of death, however there were no obvious signs of injury and her death does not appear suspicious or criminal in nature.”

“Since Misrach was reported missing on Sunday, the Department of Public Safety has been working closely with local and state law enforcement and does not believe there is any related threat to campus or the surrounding area,” Vice President of Campus Life W. Rochelle Calhoun said in such a statement shortly after Ewunetie was found dead.

Ewunetie’s death remained under investigation, but such pre-emptive insistence the campus was safe reportedly rankled students. One professor told The New York Times in a Dec. 10 report that her students were, in the outlet’s words, “outraged over what they perceived as a cynical lack of transparency.”

“There’s no reason for anyone to believe it wasn’t suspicious,” sophomore Isadora Knutsen told the Times.

Family, friends, and schoolmates mourned Ewunetie in a church vigil shortly after she was found dead.

“Misrach was exceptionally kind and always went above and beyond,” said friend Jamie Feder, class of 2023, according to Princeton Alumni Weekly. “I would tell her in passing about my musical performances and she would always, unasked but appreciated, videotape songs for me and send them to me. She was a great friend, beautiful, smart, and funny. She will be forever missed.”

[Image via Princeton University]

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