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On Sept. 27, a fisherman found the body of Harsha Maddula floating near boats in a Wilmette Harbor. Mr. Maddula, a sophomore at Northwestern University, disappeared on Sept. 22 after attending an off-campus party. The discovery ended a six-day search which included 21 law enforcement agencies and fire departments, hundreds of NU students and the FBI.

Mr. Maddula’s cellphone pinged a cell tower near Wilmette Harbor shortly after he left the party at about 12:30 a.m. His wallet, Northwestern ID card and cell phone were found with the body. Wilmette Police Chief Brian King said there were no signs of a struggle or anything to suggest that a crime had occurred.

The Cook County medical examiner concluded that Mr. Maddula had drowned. The medical examiner made no finding as to whether his death was accidental.
Mr. Maddula’s family rejected suicide as a possibility, saying he was eager to return to Northwestern to help incoming freshman orient to life at NU.  His family asked that police continue their investigation.

“On behalf of Northwestern University, I extend our deepest sympathies to Harsha’s family and to his many friends at Northwestern,” NU president Morton Schapiro said in a prepared statement. “Our hearts and thoughts are with them. The loss of one member of the Northwestern community deeply affects us all.”

Funeral services were held in New Hyde Park, New York, on Oct. 1. Hundreds of family and friends gathered to remember him.

Police Seek Information

The Evanston Police Department is seeking the public’s assistance in gathering information relating to the death of Mr. Maddula. Police ask that anyone who may have seen him between 10:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 and 1:30 a.m. on Sept. 22 or who has any other information pertinent to the case to contact the detective bureau at 847-866-5040.

Larry Gavin

Larry Gavin was a co-founder of the Evanston RoundTable in 1998 and assisted in its conversion to a non-profit in 2021. He has received many journalism awards for his articles on education, housing and...