October 1, 2002

Cornell Grad Student Reported Missing

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An investigation is currently under way to locate Ritesh Shetty grad, a Ph.D. student in the department of chemical engineering, who has not been seen or heard from in over a week. The investigation is being pursued by the Cornell Police and the Tompkins County Sheriff’s office.

Since Sept. 22, friends and family members of Shetty, a native of Bombay, India, have been hoping to hear encouraging news in the search for the missing 24-year-old.

Mahesh Ariga, Shetty’s brother-in-law, became suspicious after he received no response to repeated telephone calls and e-mails beginning on Sunday, Sept. 22. He traveled to Ithaca from his residence in Ohio.

By last Wednesday, his housemates had also become suspicious.

Dhananjay Bhawe grad, who shared both a research office and house with Shetty, stated that “it’s not unusual if he doesn’t show up for a day or so.” However, after three days, and after his attempts at e-mail contact went unanswered, Bhawe and others notified the police.

Shetty was last seen on the evening of Sept. 22, when he met some friends at his apartment to watch a movie, according to Bhawe.

The next morning, Bhawe presumes Shetty took his dark-green backpack, which has not been found, and headed for his office in Olin Hall. Shetty often walked the distance from his apartment on 114 Summer Hill Drive in the Town of Ithaca to campus, because he departed before the scheduled runs of the area buses.

Police and friends have retraced this route, but say they have not discovered anything.

According to Linda Grace-Kobas, director of Cornell news service, news of Shetty’s disappearance was posted to the Cornell International Students and Scholars listserv last Friday.

Shetty is approximately 5’6″ tall, weighing about 125 pounds with brown eyes, brown hair, and glasses, according to a University news release. He was last seen wearing a cream-colored t-shirt, dark blue jeans and white sneakers.

Ariga, speaking for the family, expressed shock over Shetty’s disappearance.

“Ritesh is a very studious person, with no financial problems, no girlfriend. How could all of a sudden something like this happen?” Ariga said, continuing, “we are praying to God that he’ll come back. His parents in India are worried. His family is worried.”

Police, as well as family and friends, have been exhausting all possible leads, checking his e-mail records, his credit cards, and calling all possible associates of Shetty, according to Bhawe. So far, these attempts have fallen short of providing an answer to Shetty’s mysterious disappearance.

Officials at the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office did not return calls for comment on the continuing investigation.

Grace-Kobas said that anyone who has any information regarding Shetty should contact either the Cornell Police at (607) 255-1111 or the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Office at (607) 272-2444.

Archived article by Michael Dickstein