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‘They Only Searched the Back’: Family of Princeton Student Found Dead After Being Missing for Days Says There’s Not Enough Attention from School Officials, Local Authorities

An Ivy League community is grieving after the body of one of the students, who went missing over the weekend, has been discovered by authorities. Loved ones of the junior, who was last seen near a dormitory on the campus, were worried sick and believed the school and local police did not do enough to locate her sooner.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office confirmed investigators have located the body of missing Princeton University student Misrach Ewunetie.

They Only Searched the Back': Family of Princeton Student Found Dead After Being Missing for Days Says There's Not Enough Attention from School Officials, Local Authorities
Princeton University student Misrach Ewunetie (Family Photo)

Her remains were discovered on the grounds of the school’s campus, located in Princeton, New Jersey. According to officials, her death doesn’t seem to be suspicious, ABC News reports.

Prosecutors say her body was found close to 1 p.m. “outside on the Facilities grounds behind the tennis courts” by a facilities employee.

“There were no obvious signs of injury and her death does not appear suspicious or criminal in nature,” authorities revealed, but are waiting for an official autopsy to be conducted before giving a final declaration.

Princeton said in a statement, “The Department of Public Safety has been working closely with local and state law enforcement and does not believe there is any related threat to campus or the surrounding area.”

“Misrach’s death is an unthinkable tragedy,” the university continued. “Our hearts go out to her family, her friends, and the many others who knew and loved her.”

Family members of Ewunetie, a 20-year-old junior, shared in an exclusive interview with the U.S. Sun what he and his family have experienced since receiving news about his sister’s disappearance.

Her suitemates said they last saw her at 3 a.m on the night of her disappearance near Scully Hall, a dormitory on the ground. Her roommate noticed she was not in her room around 4:30 a.m.

According to Ewunetie’s brother, Universe Ewunetie, his sister was coming from a Princeton Terrace Club event before she went missing.  

The club’s website says it is “one of the eleven extant eating clubs at Princeton University” with a nonselective membership that receives “any sophomore, junior, senior or graduate student” at the school with a love for food, fellowship and a good time.”

Ewunetie had joined the club and her social media accounts reflect she was there on the night before her disappearance at 11 p.m.

Her brother said she had been trying to get into the Terrace Club, and believed it was a way for her to make friends after the pandemic made it difficult for her to connect.

One clue that she was missing is that she missed her American citizenship application interview on Saturday, her brother shared.

She had been allowing her brother to track her travel by sharing her location on her phone. However, the last ping he was able to receive from her was in the early hours of Sunday, Oct. 16, placing her phone in a housing complex near Penns Neck, located approximately seven minutes away from the campus by car.

The last time a phone signal was picked up from her mobile was around 3:27 a.m. on Sunday, but then someone appears to have switched it off.

Universe Ewunetie went to the area with police officers to search for his sister, asking residents if they saw her or her phone, but no one expressed having observed a strange woman in the area. He said the local police also enlisted their K-9 unit, but to no avail.

“They went twice, once with dogs and they didn’t get anything,” Universe recalled. “The third time I joined them with my girlfriend, and we were only there for half an hour with the lead detective and two other university officers.”

He continued to explain what happened with police, saying, “They only searched the back, they couldn’t get a warrant to check houses around there. It was not enough time because the back area was wooded and full of ground vines and shrubs.”

“That’s the last place her phone pinged,” the brother said. “It’s very unlike her to turn off her phone; kids these days don’t turn off their phones, they love their phones.”

The family reported Ewunetie missing on Monday, Oct. 17, reaching out to authorities at Princeton in the morning. Later that evening, around 9:30 p.m., “Tiger Alert” was sent out by school officials after no one in her family or friend circle had heard from the student in over three days.

The relatives said the search for the young woman was not prioritized at the school.

In the alert, officials describe her as being 5-feet-4-inches tall and weighing 130 pounds. They shared she has a ‘light complexion,’ brown eyes, and black hair.

A tweet from the university’s official Twitter account gave details of the search, saying, “The Department of Public Safety continues working to locate missing undergraduate student Misrach Ewunetie. Anyone with information on her whereabouts should contact the Department of Public Safety at (609) 258-1000, or by submitting an anonymous tip:”

The school said, “As part of the continuing efforts to locate missing undergraduate student Misrach Ewunetie ’24, there is an increased law enforcement presence on and around campus including the use of a helicopter, drones, and watercraft.”

The brother struggled to communicate how devastating her loss has been for the clan.  

“I cannot explain, it’s a nightmare that I cannot wake up from,” he said. He flew into New Jersey to help the family locate their loved one. The family arrived from Ohio, where she, their brother Jhonatan, 23, and their parents have lived since arriving in 2008.

Phil Murphy, the governor of New Jersey, extended his condolences to the family.

“We are heartbroken by the tragic news that missing,” he tweeted. “@Princeton University student Misrach Ewunetie was found dead this afternoon. Our hearts go out to her family, friends, and fellow students who knew and loved her.”

Misrach Ewunetie graduated from Villa Angela – St. Joseph High School in Cleveland, valedictorian of the 2020 graduating class, and received a full four-year scholarship to the Ivy League institution through the QuestBridge National College Match program via a community-based organization that she’s involved with called Minds Matter Cleveland. She was one of 51 students among the 1,127 finalists in the College Match Scholarship program.

She’d planned to graduate in Spring 2024 with a major in sociology and a minor in computer science. She had recently changed her major.

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