Ewunetie’s body was discovered outside on the university’s facilities grounds behind tennis courts at about 1 p.m. Thursday, according to a news release from the Mercer County, New Jersey, prosecutor’s office.
There were no obvious signs of injury and “her death does not appear suspicious or criminal in nature,” reads the release. An autopsy is set to determine the cause and manner of her death.
Ewunetie was last seen in the early morning on Friday near her dormitory. The search lasted for days.
A family member shared this message just before learning of her death: “We love you. You’re loved. Everybody — your mom, your dad, your brothers — we miss you. We love you.”
Ewunetie’s brother told NBC News her roommates saw her at 3 a.m. Friday at their dormitory, but no one saw her after 4 a.m.
He told ABC News he used the Apple location-sharing function to find her phone at an off-campus housing complex at about 3:30 a.m. the following Sunday. The complex is a 30-minute walk from the dormitory. The last time her phone connected with a cell phone tower was 6 a.m. Sunday, he said.
Ewunetie’s family told the university on Sunday night they had not heard from her in several days, according to a Wednesday letter from the university’s Vice President for Campus Life Rochelle Calhoun. The university issued a missing student alert on Monday, Oct. 17.
Ewunetie’s sudden disappearance was out-of-character for the hard-working student, said Sara Elaqad, executive director of Minds Matter Cleveland, a nonprofit that works with bright students from low-income families, who spoke to FOX 8 before learning of Ewunetie’s death.
“Everyone is living a nightmare right now. It’s really difficult to wake up and remember that this is what’s going on,” she said.
Ewunetie was an Ethiopian immigrant who came to the U.S. as a child. She disappeared just one day before her U.S. citizenship interview, according to Elaqad.
“We’re very proud. She has a lot to be proud of. She worked hard and she did everything she could to get where she is today at Princeton,” she said, adding that Ewunetie was “a kind girl” yet “very serious and mature.”
She graduated top of her class from Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School.
FOX 8 previously reached out to the Cleveland Catholic Diocese for a statement. Here is their response:
The Villa St. Angela – St. Joseph High School community learned Tuesday of a report that Misrach Ewunetie, a 2020 honors graduate, was missing from the Princeton University campus. We are praying for her swift and safe return.Cleveland Catholic Diocese
Prosecutor Angelo Onofri “expressed his deepest condolences” to Ewunetie’s family, and thanked the numerous agencies involved in the search, which escalated to involve a helicopter, drones and watercraft.