‘I was blackmailed’ | Purdue University student makes claim during initial hearing on killing of roommate

The Tippecanoe County Coroner’s Office identified the victim as 20-year-old Varun Manish Chheda of Indianapolis.
Varun Chheda
Varun Chheda(Sycamore School)
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 3:59 PM EDT
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WTHR) -Purdue University police are investigating the homicide of a student at a residence hall overnight.

The student was identified as 20-year-old Varun Manish Chheda of Indianapolis.

A university spokesperson said a 911 call came into the Purdue University Police Department at 12:44 a.m. Wednesday morning from McCutcheon Hall.

A suspect — Ji Min Sha — made the call and, according to court documents, said he had just killed his roommate with a knife. Responding officers found Sha in the room with blood on his clothing and body.

Officers found Chheda dead in a chair. A folding knife was found on the floor. A preliminary autopsy Wednesday found Chheda’s cause of death was determined to be multiple sharp force traumatic injuries to Chheda’s head and neck.

Chheda was a junior at the university and studied data science. He was also in the Purdue Honors College.

An obituary for Chheda said he " loved the sciences, was very inquisitive and his passion for any subject matter was contagious.”

He was a National Merit Scholarship Award Winner and a national runner up in the Science Bowl Competition in 2016.

A visitation for Chheda will be held Sunday, Oct. 9 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Leppert Mortuary – Nora, 740 East 86th St, Indianapolis, Indiana 46240.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in Varun’s memory may be made to Riley Children’s Foundation.

Ji Min Sha, 22, is a junior who is studying cybersecurity at Purdue. Police said Sha is an international student from South Korea.

Sha is being held on a preliminarily charge of murder. As he walked into the Tippecanoe County Jail, Sha twice said, “I love my family.”

Police are still trying to work out a possible motive for Chheda’s murder. They said it’s under investigation. According to Purdue Police Chief Lesley Wiete, she believes the crime was unprovoked and senseless.

When Sha was walking into an initial court hearing on Oct. 7, he was asked “why did you do it?” Sha can be heard responding, “I was blackmailed.”

A judge granted a continuance, which means Sha will face formal charges Oct. 13. He will be held without bond until then.