Mother of slain Indian-American student Varun Chheda opens up about son's death

Varun Chheda, a data science student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, was killed by his 22-year-old South Korean roommate Ji Min Sha earlier this month.

IANSUpdated: Thursday, October 27, 2022, 06:18 PM IST
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Indian-American data science student Varun Chheda with his parents. |

Opening up for the first time since the killing of their 20-year-old son on the Purdue University campus in the US, the parents of Indian-American Varun Chheda stated that they are struggling to understand how the incident occurred.

Varun Chheda, a data science student at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, was killed by his 22 year-old South Korean roommate Ji Min Sha earlier this month.

"I would believe that, you know, there could be a fire or there could be an earthquake or there could be a car wreck or any other kind of thing, you know, accident. That could happen, but never, never something like this," Manish Chheda, Varun's father, told in an interview with ABC News.

Sha, who now faces murder charge, stabbed Varun multiple times in the head and neck with a folding knife, an incident which the police termed "senseless and unprovoked".

Making his first court appearance, Sha said, "I'm very sorry." He also claimed he was blackmailed, but didn't elaborate further.

"I miss him terribly, because he was my son, because he was my friend," Varun's mother Seema Dedhiya told ABC News.

Varun was considered warm and humble by friends and family. He was a "bright student" who graduated from Park Tudor with glowing results in 2020.

Varun had a lot of achievements in school including scoring top honours at a State Science Olympiad in 2016 and winning the State Spanish competition in 2015 and 2016. He also competed in Chemistry and Science Bowl competitions.

Dedhiya said that everything seemed normal when she drove him back to West Lafayette after a long weekend at home.

Just a few hours before the murder, Dedhiya said she texted her son her usual evening message: "Eat well, sleep well... Finish your homework," and he, recalled Dedhiya, responded by saying: "Yes, Mom, I've done it all."

In his last text to his mother at 11:45 pm, Varun wrote: "Goodnight mama."

The couple told ABC News that they had no idea whether Varun had problems with his roommate and said their son rarely mentioned him.

As the family continues to wait for more answers, they said they will never be able to get over their son's death, but they will try to.

When asked what she misses the most about her son, Dedhiya said: "His laugh... his brilliance."

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