Who Killed My Son on ID is investigating the death of Pravin Varughese, who was killed in the woods near Carbondale, Illinois, on a cold wintry night in 2014.
The case is controversial because the cops had initially thought the death was an accident but eventually concluded that Gaege Bethune was the killer. A jury even agreed with them. However, the sentencing judge threw the case out on a technicality.
On February 12, 2014, 19-year-old Varughese attended a house party in Carbondale, and after leaving, he was never seen alive again. His remains were found a few days later in a secluded wood. He had been studying Criminal Justice at Southern Illinois University.
The police initially concluded that Varughese had been the victim of a tragic accident. They thought he had been intoxicated after the party and became lost in the woods. He had then succumbed to the frigid weather on what was a bitterly cold night.
However, his family refused to believe it was an accident. An initial examination of the remains had ruled that he had died from hypothermia; however, the family ordered an independent autopsy which found evidence that he suffered a blunt force trauma to the head.
Gaege Bethune admitted he was the last to see Pravin Varughese alive
Gaege Bethune came forward to tell the police he had given Varughese a ride after the party. He was the last person to see him alive, but he claimed he hadn’t killed him.
Bethune said he offered Varughese a ride after the party, but he claims that his passenger was drunk and became aggressive. He says he pulled the car over and the pair engaged in a scuffle.
He also admitted to hitting Varughese but claims the student then went into a huff and ran off into the woods.
The cops also learned that a state trooper had encountered Bethune at the time that Varughese had vanished. They said Bethune had told them a Black man had attempted to rob him but had run off into the woods. The trooper had had a quick search of the area but found nothing and sent Bethune home.
The detectives were suspicious that Bethune had changed his story. They eventually arrested him on a charge of murder.
In 2018, a jury convicted Bethune of murder after a two-week trial. Varughese’s family were pleased that justice had been served.
However, much to the horror of the Varughese family, Bethune’s conviction was subsequently thrown out by the judge. On the day of sentencing, the judge decided that the wording on the original charging document was confusing to the jury. Bethune was placed on bond and ultimately released.
Varughese’s family has since done all they can to keep the case in the public eye in the hope that they find justice for their son. A new trial is expected to take place at some point in the future.
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Who Killed My Son airs at 9/8c on Investigation Discovery.