Geist-area resident killed by roommate at Purdue University


Varun Manish Chheda, a Geist-area resident and Purdue University student, was allegedly killed by his roommate in their dormitory room in the early morning of Oct. 5.

Purdue University Police Chief Lesley Wiete identified Ji Min Sha, 22, a junior exchange student from South Korea, as the suspect in Chheda’s death.

According to police, Sha called 911 stating that his roommate was dead. He was then taken into custody for questioning and he is being held on a preliminarily charge of murder. A motive for what police say was an unprovoked attack hasn’t been established, according to Purdue police. Chheda’s cause of death was multiple sharp force traumatic injuries, according to the autopsy. 

Chheda, 20, was a senior studying data science at Purdue and a member of the Purdue Honors College. He was set to turn 21 on Nov. 15.

Chheda was from the northside of Indianapolis in the Geist area. He attended Park Tudor School. Before that, he attended Sycamore School. According to his obituary, Chheda was a member of the Korea Taekwondo Academy and was a National Merit Scholarship Award Winner. He also was a runner-up in the 2016 national Science Bowl Competition.

“The entire Park Tudor community is incredibly saddened by the tragic loss of Varun Chheda, Park Tudor class of 2020. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time,” Dennis Bisgaard, Interim Head of School stated.

Chheda’s obituary said he was family-oriented and smart.

He was a player who necessitated his sister and cousins to gang up to win against him in any and all games involving strategy. To his friends he was the guy ‘you would want to hang with’,” Chheda’s obituary reads. “He loved the sciences, was very inquisitive and his passion for any subject matter was contagious. He enjoyed the simple things in life and never sought out attention or praise for his accomplishments. His absence will be sorely felt by those who knew and loved him.”

Purdue University held a candlelight vigil the night of Oct. 5 at the campus’ “Unfinished P,” a statue honoring students who do not get to finish their time at Purdue. Purdue President Mitch Daniels released a statement that read in part: 

“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 … 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.”

Daniels also stated that there is counseling support being offered for students who may need it. A visitation is set for Oct. 9 from 2-5 p.m. at Leppert Mortuary at 740 E. 86th St. in Indianapolis. In lieu of flowers, the family is asking for contribution to be made in Chheda’s honor to the Riley Children’s Foundation at