College student Nicholas Brastins Barnes, a junior at the University of Chicago, was found dead in his dorm room on Saturday afternoon, and officials say they believe he passed away at least a week before his body was discovered. Now, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered.
Barnes' dorm room was investigated after other students in the house complained of a foul smell, and police say the last time he used his key card to enter the dorm was February 7. While they don't suspect foul play or suicide, the question of why his absence went unnoticed for so long is troublesome to investigators.
"It's uncomfortable," said resident Ryo Atnei. "I can't believe no one noticed."
University officials say they are doing all they can to figure out why Barnes was able to go undetected for so long, and reached out to his family in a statement.
“University staff are making every effort to understand the circumstances surrounding Nicholas’ death,” Karen Warren Coleman, vice president for campus life and student services, said in the statement. “Our thoughts are with Nicholas’ family and friends … and all who are touched by this loss. Nicholas was an excellent student, admired by faculty and peers alike.”
As news of the shocking discovery spread around campus, many students expressed sadness and disbelief that a person could be completely under the radar for so long on a bustling campus.
“It was just really surprising to me to think somebody on this campus could go unnoticed for so long,” student Tinley Melvin said. “It’s everyone’s worst fear that they would be so anonymous."
Although police have ruled out suicide, a toxicology report is pending for Barnes. His family is planning a funeral in Pennsylvania, and the school will hold a memorial service for him. He was 20 years old.
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