Updated: Northwestern student missing since Saturday morning

  • A student peers behind a bush. University Police to check in bushes, Dumpsters and alleys for anything from a wallet to a discarded shirt. (Rafi Letzter/Daily senior staffer)
  • Friends of Harsha Maddula say they last heard from the McCormick sophomore by phone around 12:30 a.m. Saturday after leaving an off-campus party. "We are trying to find him," University Police Cmdr. Darren Davis said. (Source: Facebook)
  • Communication freshman Katherine Koller, Weinberg freshmen Margaret Kuo and Sarah Holmstrom (left to right) show Ihanthan Toodi and Sairavi Suribhotla the way to University Place where they planned to recruit passersby to find the missing student. Toodi and Suribhotla, who are not friends or family of Harsha Maddula, responded to a Facebook alert calling for volunteers to mobilize a search party on campus. (Rafi Letzter/Daily senior staffer)
  • After volunteers gathered a crowd of searchers, a University Police officer walked with the group to University Place and gave instructions. (Rafi Letzter/Daily senior staffer)

Marshall Cohen, Print Managing Editor

University Police are investigating the disappearance of a Northwestern student who has been missing since early Saturday morning.

Harsha Maddula was last seen around 12:30 a.m. leaving an off-campus party at 2013 Ridge Ave., according to an emergency alert sent Monday night to the NU community.

The McCormick sophomore is an 18-year-old Indian male. He is 5 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 135 pounds, according to the emergency alert. He was last seen wearing a gray long-sleeve sweater with white and black stitching, dark gray pants and brown shoes.

Cmdr. Darren Davis told The Daily earlier Monday that Maddula’s friends first told UP at 6:45 p.m. Saturday they did not know where he was. The report was handled as  “contacted but not seen” because Maddula spoke on the phone with a friend early Saturday morning but had not been seen since then.

The situation was upgraded to a missing person report at 5 p.m. Sunday.

“We are trying to find him,” Davis said. “We are canvassing the area, talking to people who might know his whereabouts and checking the vicinity on and off campus.”

There are no indications of foul play, Davis added.

The emergency alert came 50 hours after UP first heard of Maddula’s situation.

NU spokesman Bob Rowley said Monday afternoon he had not heard of Maddula’s disappearance and that UP decides whether or not to send missing student alerts based on the sensitivity and fluidity of each incident.

Friends from Maddula’s dorm said they last saw him while leaving the off-campus party.

“They realized that he wasn’t with them while they were walking to another party,” said a friend of Maddula who was with him at the party. Maddula’s friends did not want to be identified due to the sensitivity of the situation.

Maddula left the party with three or four people, according to multiple sources who saw his group leaving the house, which is located west of campus.

Several sources who said they spoke with Maddula at the party recalled him as coherent — not stumbling or visibly intoxicated — as he left.

Weinberg junior Moritz Gellner, who lives at the house where Maddula was last seen, sent a statement to The Daily after the emergency alert was sent out.

“Everybody in our house has been complying with the investigation and is trying to give as much information as possible regarding what we know about the student in question,” Gellner said. “His safety is paramount and it’s the most important thing that needs to be addressed and now we wish the police the best of luck in their search for the student.”

Originally from the small Long Island town of New Hyde Park, N.Y., Maddula lived with parents Prasad and Dhanalakshmi Maddula before coming to NU last year.

“I don’t know what to do,” Prasad Maddula told The Daily on Monday morning, shortly after UP first notified him and his wife of the disappearance. “I’m so scared and upset. There are no words that I can use to explain anything.”

After not hearing from Harsha since Friday, Prasad called a community assistant at PARC on Sunday night, but said the CA did not know anything about his son’s whereabouts.

Prasad then decided to fly to Chicago with his wife to deal with the situation directly, he told The Daily. Their flight landed Monday evening.

According to PARC residents, police visited the residential college multiple times Monday. Detectives also searched Maddula’s room, Davis confirmed.

“We are cooperating with the police to help with the ongoing investigation, and we are all thinking of Harsha and his family at this time,” PARC president Linzy Wagner said in a statement.

Weinberg sophomore John Kim, who lived in PARC last year and is good friends with Maddula, said the tight-knit residential community is overcome with concern.

“The atmosphere is pretty heavy,” Kim said. “Obviously all the sophomores are worried and the freshmen are freaking out.”

The Evanston Police Department has been notified of the situation, said spokesman Cmdr. Jay Parrott. However, EPD is not handling the investigation because the missing person report was filed with UP.

The unfolding situation of a missing NU student is reminiscent of Trevor Boehm, who went missing Nov. 5, 2008. His body was found in Lake Michigan and identified 12 days later after an apparent suicide.

This story has been updated for clarity and to reflect new information about an NU emergency alert regarding Maddula’s disappearance and new statements from Gellner and Wagner.

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