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Missing Indian-origin student found dead in US

world Updated: Mar 12, 2014 13:53 IST
Indian-American death in New york

A 22-year-old New York-based Indian-origin student, who was missing since February, has been found dead in her car after allegedly committing suicide.

Jasmine Joseph's body was found in New York on Tuesday in her car parked at a Syosset shopping center parking lot, less than a kilometre from her home. She was last seen leaving her home in Syosset area on February 24 in her car to go to the New York Institute of Technology's campus.

She had called her parents in the evening to say she was at the college library and had not been seen or heard from since. Joseph committed suicide and inhaled noxious fumes of some sort, police told CBS News.

While Joseph had told her parents that she was studying at NYIT, the institute had issued a statement saying she had not been enrolled at the school since May?2013.

The Nassau County Police Department confirmed that Joseph was not enrolled at NYIT for the current semester and that her parents were not aware of that fact. "She was somewhat deceptive about her personal life, which made the investigation more complicated," Nassau Police Inspector Kenneth Lack was quoted as saying by NBC News.

Joseph's family members said the car was found in a spot where police had previously searched. "How can we miss the car? It's a mystery kind of thing now,"Joseph's uncle James said.

Police did not comment on any other issues in Joseph's personal life and did not speculate about why she apparently took her own life. Joseph's family had set up a Facebook page to locate her and had distributed fliers throughout the city asking the public's assistance in finding her. Her parents had also offered a $5,000 reward for her safe return.

Joseph's family and friends expressed shock and grief over her death. "Honestly, we're still in disbelief. It still hasn't really hit us," said friend Simi Jawandha. She said Joseph was "an absolutely incredible human being, both inside and out, and she absolutely loved her friends and family."

Incidentally, there have been three cases of Indian-American students mysteriously disappearing in the last few weeks, with their parents originally from Kerala. Apart form Joseph, Southern Illinois University student from Morton Grove Pravin Varughese, who had gone missing in Illinois, was found dead last month in a wooded area in Carbondale.

He had disappeared after getting into a dispute with an acquaintance who was giving him a ride. Reny Jose, 21, a mechanical engineering major and a member of Martel College at Rice University, is still missing after he mysteriously disappeared while vacationing with friends in the US state of Florida.