The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has joined the probe into the murder of a 23-year-old Indian student who was found dead in St. Louis, Missouri.
On Saturday morning, Soumya Tummala, an electrical engineering student from Andhra Pradesh, was found dead in a car in a park in St. Louis, about 25 km from the Southern Illinois University (SIU) where she studied.
The police are treating it as a case of homicide, Ron Schaefer, director of international programmes at SIU's Edwardsville campus, told IANS.
According to the St. Louis county police, a parkgoer had reported that somebody was lying slumped in a car, which led to the discovery of Tummala's body.
Detectives believe Tummala was shot dead between Friday night and Saturday morning. They are trying to find what she was doing in St. Louis and what led to her killing.
Police said the FBI joined the case on Monday morning because the body of the Illinois resident was found in another state.
University officials said they were cooperating with the St. Louis authorities to quickly repatriate the body of the student. On Sunday, the university made contact with Tummala's family in Adilabad district of Andhra Pradesh to break the sad news to her mother.
Vishwas Satpal, the Indian consul in Chicago, told IANS that the consulate was quickly processing the documentation so that the slain student's body can be sent to India at the earliest.
Tummala was a student with a very good standing in her department, Schaefer said, adding that she would have graduated in summer 2009.
She is perhaps the first female Indian student murdered in recent memory in the US, leaving aside Minal Panchal, who was one of the 32 victims of a massacre on Virginia Tech campus in April last year.
At least four Indian students have been found murdered in the US since the sensational double murder of A. Kiran Kumar and K. Chandrasekhar Reddy, both PhD students from Andhra Pradesh, at Louisiana University in December 2007.
Abhijit Mahato, of Jharkhand, studying for his doctoral degree in engineering at Duke University in North Carolina, was found dead in January 2008. In March, A. Srinivas, a postgraduate medical student from Karimnagar was killed.