A man has been formally charged with the first-degree murder of a Southern Illinois University student — three and a half years after he died.
Gaege Bethune, 22, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder Thursday, according to NBC Chicago. He is being held on $1 million bond.
Pravin Varughese, 19, was found dead in a wooded area in Carbondale in February 2014 after being missing for nearly a week. Police say he died after getting in a fight with a driver, later identified as Bethune, with whom he had gotten a ride after a late-night party. Bethune was the last person to see Varughese alive.
Bethune told police that the two fought for about 30 seconds, then when an Illinois state trooper approached, Varughese took off into the woods.
A Jackson County coroner ruled Varughese died of hypothermia and found no sign of foul play, according to NBC Chicago. But an autopsy done for the family showed that he died of blunt force trauma to the head.
Bethune was originally a suspect in a criminal investigation following Varughese’s death, but a Jackson County grand jury did not issue an indictment, or formal charges, in February 2015. At that time, Jackson County State’s Attorney Michael Carr said the findings of the criminal investigation showed that an intoxicated Varughese died of hypothermia, and that his death was a tragic accident.