Decomposing Body of Univ. of Chicago Student Found in Dorm Room

The death of a University of Chicago student remains under investigation today after police said they found the 20-year-old’s decomposing body face down in a college dorm room.
By Kami Dimitrova

The death of a University of Chicago student remains under investigation today after police said they found the 20-year-old’s decomposing body face down in a college dorm room.

Nicholas Barnes, 20, was found on Saturday afternoon by police after fellow students noticed a foul odor coming out his room, according to police. When police entered the dorm room in an on-campus housing facility, Barnes’ body was found face down on the floor and noticeably decomposing, police said.

The last time Barnes used his keycard — a required ID students need to access residence halls — was Feb. 7, more than one week before his body was found, according to the Chicago Police Department.

The Medical Examiner’s office in Cook County, Ill., said that it appears Barnes had been dead for at least 72 hours. 

A former high school classmate of Barnes’ commented on his friend’s death by replying to a tweet from ABC News.

“Nick had a great sense of humor, an inquisitive mind, uncommon intelligence, and was a friend to all,” Harrison Hersch said. “We pray for his family.”

University staff members do live in the housing facility, school officials said. According to the school’s website there are five staff members specifically assigned to manage the residence, but campus officials said they don’t check up on students regularly.

There was no evidence of foul play, police said, and authorities are waiting on toxicology reports to be completed within the next month to confirm the cause of death.

Barnes lived in a single room with no roommates at a student residence called the Booth House, which is one of four student residences that make up a 500-student International House located near the center of the university’s campus in Hyde Park, according the university’s website.

The website describes the residence as “Boisterous!” and “Enthusiastic!” and frequently hosts group activities.

The day after Barnes’ body was discovered, the University of Chicago sent email alerts to the students and faculty notifying them of the loss.

“Nick will be painfully missed,” Karen Warren Colemen, Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services said. “[He] was an excellent student, admired by faculty and peers alike.” 

Barnes was a high-performing third-year student majoring in Germanic studies, according a statement issued by the university. He studied abroad in Vienna in the fall of 2012 and was involved with a student magazine called Sliced Bread.

University officials said in a statement that the family is planning a funeral in Pittsburgh, which is where Barnes grew up. There will also be a campus memorial for Barnes so that students can gather and mourn the loss as a community.

Barnes’ family members in Pittsburgh were unavailable for comment.

A receptionist at the International House declined comment and referred questions to university officials.
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