The decomposed body of a 20-year-old student at the University of Chicago was discovered Saturday afternoon after complaints of a foul smell in his dorm room.
Nicholas Barnes was found face down on the floor in his single room at the International House, according to the police report. An autopsy failed to identify the cause of death. A toxicology report is still pending.
It is unclear when Barnes died, but he hadn’t used his campus key card in eight days. School officials say the key card is necessary at all times to gain access to the residence hall, so he likely died more recently.
“It was just really surprising to me to think somebody on this campus could go unnoticed for so long,” Tinley Melvin, 20, a junior from Toronto told the Chicago Tribune. “It’s everyone’s worst fear that they would be so anonymous."
“It's just strange,” said Neal Jochmann, 19, a freshman from Tennessee. “How the hell was he there that long? That's frightening.”
Another student thought it was strange Barnes’ fellow students didn’t realize he was missing.
“A lot of people are really upset about this, (but) I don’t think I’d be so quick to blame the college though I know some people do,” said Prathima Radhakrishnan, 22, a senior from New Jersey. “It’s important for people to just look out for each other.”
The school would not comment on campus policy regarding the welfare of missing students.
“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 a statement Sunday morning.
“Our thoughts are with Nicholas’ family and friends … and all who are touched by this loss,” she added. “Nicholas was an excellent student, admired by faculty and peers alike.”