Ji Min “Jimmy” Sha is a Purdue University student accused of killing his roommate, Varun Manish Chheda, in their dorm room on the Indiana campus. Chheda, 20, was found stabbed to death on Wednesday, October 5, 2022, police said. Sha, 22, is being held without bond on a murder charge at the Tippecanoe County Jail, records show.
Purdue University Police Chief Lesley Wiete said at a press conference the killing was “unprovoked and senseless.” Wiete did not comment on a possible motive or provide any other details about the homicide. The medical examiner’s office said Chheda died of “multiple sharp force traumatic injuries.”
Here’s what you need to know about Ji Min Sha and the killing of Purdue student Varun Manish Chheda:
1. Jimmy Sha Called Police About 12:45 a.m., Authorities Say
Police said Jimmy Sha called 911 about 12:45 a.m. to report his roommate’s death. According to Wiete, the incident occurred on the first floor of McCutcheon Hall in a dorm room on the West Lafayette, Indiana, campus. Varun Chheda was found dead inside the dorm room when first responders arrived, police said.
Wiete said, “In this situation, if we did not have the suspect in custody as quickly as we did we would absolutely have sent out a Purdue alert. But we had him very quickly and there was no threat to campus by this individual any further.” She said he was arrested in minutes. The two were alone in the dorm room and Sha called 911 from inside the room after Chheda was killed, Wiete said.
When asked why Sha called 911, Wiete said, “There’s not a lot I can go into at the moment because the investigation is still ongoing. But he is the one who made the call and alerted us to the situation.” When asked if she could share a motive, she replied, “not yet.” She also said she couldn’t comment on whether a weapon was used in the homicide.
Mitch Daniels, Purdue’s president, said in a letter to the university’s community, “I write to let you know that early this morning, one of our students was killed in his residence hall room. The suspect, the victim’s roommate, called police to report the incident and is in custody. This is as tragic an event as we can imagine happening on our campus and our hearts and thoughts go out to all of those affected by this terrible event.”
Wiete added, “From the Purdue Police Department and Purdue University, our hearts go out to the victim and his family and friends and anybody who knew him or anybody who he may have touched in his life. This is extremely sad and unfortunate for us today. And I can’t even imagine what his family is going through at this time.”
2. Sha, a Junior Cybersecurity Major From South Korea, Told Reporters ‘I Love My Family’ While Being Taken to Jail, Video Shows
Sha is a junior and was studying cybersecurity, according to police. He is an international student from Seoul, South Korea, officials said. Few other details about Sha were immediately available. It was not immediately clear how long Sha and Chheda lived together.
Videos posted by reporters show Sha being led into jail. After reporters asked him about what he is accused of, Sha responded only, “I love my family.” Sha has not appeared in court yet and did not offer any additional comment about the accusations.
Few details about the homicide have been made public. Police said the case remains under investigation. It was not immediately clear when Sha is scheduled to appear in court or if he has hired an attorney who could comment on his behalf.
3. Chheda, of Indianapolis, Was a Senior Studying Data Science
Chheda was from Indianapolis and was a senior studying data science, university officials said. Chheda was 10 days away from his 21st birthday, authorities said. He graduated from Park Tudor School in Indianapolis, according to the school.
His high school friend, Andrew Wu, told Fox 59, “He was really just the best guy you ever wanted to hang out with.” He said they often played video games together. Wu added, “He played tons of different games. He’s smart, he knows what to do, he’s very passionate about the games and he’s very passionate about everything, he puts his everything into everything. It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to do this to him.”
Dennis Bisgaard, the interim head of the Park Tudor School, told the Purdue Exponent, “The entire Park Tudor community is incredibly saddened by the tragic loss. Our prayers are with the family at this difficult time.”
4. Chheda’s Friends Say They Heard Screaming on a Discord Call While They Were Playing Video Games With Him Before He Was Killed
Another one of Chheda’s friends, Arunabh Sinha, told NBC News Chheda had been playing video games with friends Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning and talking with them in a Discord voice chat server. The friends heard Chheda screaming before his death, according to NBC News. There were possibly witnesses, but they were not in the room, Wiete said at the press conference.
Wu told Fox 59, “He did everything in high school. Science Bowl, he did Math Olympiads, Science Olympiads. He did everything and he did it very, very well. He was the smartest kid I ever met in science bowl, any subject; geography, geology, math, chemistry, physics. … He was focusing on his classes and he was studying. Very clearly wanted to work in some science and make some kind of difference, its just sad he couldn’t.”
Sinha told NBC News that his friend was graduating early after three years at Purdue. He said Chheda was a, “really smart guy, always top of his class, top of the chess club, science bowl team. He was really humble about it.” He, “always did things the right way, he refused to take short cuts,” Sinha said.
5. Police Say the Killing Remains Under Investigation
Wiete said at the press conference, “This is investigation is ongoing and will continue for quite awhile. As of now, the charge is murder. That is the only charge we have on our suspect. And the investigation is ongoing at this time.” She said they hoped to release further details “soon.”
Daniels said in his letter, “We do not have all the details yet. Our Purdue University Police Department is conducting a thorough investigation of this incident so that we all may learn more about what transpired. As is always the case, staff from our Office of the Dean of Students, our Residence Halls, and clinicians at Purdue’s Counseling and Psychological Services are providing support and are available to anyone who needs or wants their care.”
The Purdue president added, “As Purdue’s president, but even more so as a parent myself, I assure you that the safety and security of our students is the single highest priority on our campus. Purdue is an extraordinarily safe place on any given day, and compared with cities of Purdue’s population (approximately 60,000 in all), we experience a tiny fraction of violent and property crime that occurs elsewhere.
Daniels wrote, “Such statistics are of no consolation on a day like this. A death on our campus and among our Purdue family affects each of us deeply. I am ever grateful to all of you who continually take the time to care for each other and know you will do so in the days ahead.”
Chheda’s death is the first on-campus homicide since September 2014, when 21-year-old Andrew Boldt, of Wisconsin, was shot to death in the basement of an electrical engineering building on Purdue’s campus, according to police. A fellow student, Cody Cousins, was convicted of murder in the shooting, according to the Purdue Exponent. Cousins later died by suicide in prison.