Those who knew Engineering graduate student Anirban Majumdar remain skeptical that his death resulted from anything but foul play, but authorities have not provided more evidence as to why that explanation has been ruled out for now.
Majumdar, a 25-year-old native of Calcutta, India, was pulled dead from the Schuylkill River on Sunday near the Spring Garden Street Bridge, ending a two-week search. He had not been seen since Nov. 2 and was reported missing by one of his roommates three days later.
On Monday, when the medical examiner officially identified Majumdar, University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman said the examiner's office had determined that "the post-mortem exam showed no evidence of trauma or foul play." That day, the examiner determined the cause to be drowning, and officials suggested that Majumdar's death was likely the result of an accident or suicide.
Jeff Moran, spokesman for the medical examiner's office, would not comment on the investigation yesterday, saying that the case is "still pending."
"The manner of death has yet to be ruled and I don't expect it will be for some time," Moran said.
And Maureen Rush, Penn's vice president for public safety, declined to comment on exactly what evidence obtained by the examiner leads officials to believe that Majumdar's death was not the result of foul play.
"It's their investigation," Rush said of the medical examiner's office.
According to Penn Director of Special Services Pat Brennan, a routine toxicology test will be performed on Majumdar's body to "answer all the questions."
Unless the test reveals anything else, investigators will stick with the assumption that Majumdar's death was "accidental or voluntary," Brennan said.
While Moran would neither confirm nor deny the ordering of a toxicology test, he said that the results of a test, if performed, could take "as long as eight weeks" to be processed.
This prospect has frustrated some of Majumdar's friends and family, who have urged authorities, in the words of 24-year-old Santa Clara, Calif., resident Ozair Usmani, to "take this case more seriously than they are right now."
Usmani, a college friend of Majumdar's from India, criticized investigators for warning that they may never know exactly what caused the death.
"I've seen so many cases being solved by law enforcement agencies over here and I don't see why a case like this should go unsolved," Usmani said. "The last thing I expect them to say right now is that we may never know what happened."
According to Brennan, there are many possible explanations for why Majumdar ended up in the Schuylkill, and the circumstances surrounding the incident may never be full known.
"The only thing we'll be able to tell at the end of the investigation is what didn't happen," Brennan said on Monday. "He could have jumped into the river... he could have slipped into the river."
Many of Majumdar's friends have found it hard to accept the possibility that the death was a suicide.
"I had a friend who committed suicide and if I compare the two people there are so many differences," said San Diego resident Nandan Das, 26, another friend of Majumdar's from India. "He didn't have money problems. He had a strong family. The guy was so full of life, so successful."
Rush acknowledged that much surrounding Majumdar's death is suspicious, but noted that in a case such as this it is normal for those emotionally involved to find it hard to come to terms with the facts.
"It is so emotionally charged and it's very common for family and friends to question when there's still an open unsubstantiated cause of death," Rush said.
Still, those like Gautam Chakrabarti, a 25-year-old computer science graduate student at Michigan State University, have found it hard to reconcile the facts of the case with what they knew of Majumdar.
"Everything was going on fine," Chakrabarti said. "Everything seemed to be fine with him."
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