Day-by-day timeline: The Harsha Maddula case

Marshall Cohen and Patrick Svitek

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The following timeline is based off news releases, official statements and Daily interviews with the law enforcement and Northwestern officials involved in the search for Harsha Maddula. Since the McCormick sophomore’s body was found in Lake Michigan, The Daily has reached out to some of the students who may have last seen Maddula to confirm the initial accounts that they provided to reporters. The timeline notes initial accounts that have not been confirmed since the discovery of Maddula’s body.

Wednesday, Sept. 19

Harsha Maddula arrives at Northwestern for his sophomore year. The Long Island native comes to campus a week before classes begin to help incoming freshmen move in.

Friday, Sept. 21

Afternoon: Harsha talks on the phone with his mother, Dhanalakshmi. This will be the last communication between Harsha and his family.

Around 10:30 p.m.: Harsha leaves Public Affairs Residential College with about eight friends for a night of off-campus partying.

Around 10:45 p.m.: Harsha and his group arrive at an off-campus party on Garnett Place. However, they don’t stay long and leave the house after a few minutes.

Around 11 p.m.: With three or four friends, Harsha arrives at a house party in the 2000 block of Ridge Avenue. Again, the group leaves shortly after arriving. It is unclear where they went.

“He didn’t seem that inebriated,” said one friend who saw Harsha soon after he arrived.

Around 11:30 p.m.: The same group returns to the party on Ridge Avenue.

Saturday, Sept. 22

Around midnight: Harsha leaves the party on Ridge Avenue with three friends. While leaving, Harsha is coherent, is not stumbling and looks “very sober,” according to a student who monitored the door all night and spoke with Harsha as he left.

Between midnight and 12:10 a.m.: The group arrives at an off-campus party on Hamlin Street, without Harsha. It is not clear how Harsha got separated from the group while traveling between the two parties, which are less than eight minutes apart by foot.

“They just realized that he wasn’t with them while they were walking,” said one of Harsha’s close friends from PARC.

12:10 a.m.: Harsha calls Weinberg sophomore John Kim and asks where he is. Kim replies that he is still at the party on Ridge Avenue. Harsha replies that he is “going to see if he could make it over there,” Kim said.

Several days later, Kim told The Daily that he wasn’t able to hear Harsha’s response on the phone because he was in a loud room at the party.

Around 12:35 a.m.: Weinberg sophomore Linzy Wagner, who accompanies Harsha throughout the night, calls him and asks where he is. Harsha says he is back in his room on the second floor of PARC. However, surveillance footage shows that Harsha is not in his room at this time. This is the last known contact from Harsha.

Wagner has not responded to follow-up requests for confirmation of her call to Harsha, which The Daily reported last week after speaking with several friends who were with her that night.

Between 12:35 and 1:07 a.m.: Harsha’s cell phone transmits signals consistent with a person walking north on Ridge Avenue, which becomes Sheridan Road in Wilmette. Parrott told The Daily that Harsha took a “direct route” from Ridge Avenue to Gillson Park, which is attached to the harbor.

1:07 a.m.: Harsha’s cell phone transmits its final signal, a “ping” near Wilmette Harbor.

Midday: Harsha fails to appear at pre-planned PARC events.

Around 5:30 p.m.: Area coordinator Keenan Colquitt calls UP regarding Harsha’s disappearance and asks police to check on his well-being.

6:45 p.m.: UP officers enter Harsha’s room after knocking several times and receiving no response. They do not find any sign of Harsha in his room.

At this time, UP describes the case as “contacted but not seen” but not yet a missing person situation. This is because Wagner spoke with Harsha on the phone earlier that morning, but he had not been seen since.

Nighttime: UP detectives interview residents of the Ridge Avenue house where Harsha was last seen leaving.

Sunday, Sept. 23

5 p.m.: UP files a missing person report for Harsha.

Around 10:30 p.m.: After not hearing from Harsha for two days, Harsha’s father calls a PARC community assistant and asks about the whereabouts of his son. The CA does not know anything about Harsha’s situation or disappearance and does not know his current whereabouts.

“He usually keeps in touch with us every day,” Prasad Maddula told The Daily.

Monday, Sept. 24

Around 10:30 a.m.: Evanston Police spokesman Cmdr. Jay Parrott says EPD has not been informed of any missing NU students.

“I’ve asked people here and they haven’t heard of anything,” Parrott told The Daily.

Around 11 a.m.: UP calls Harsha’s parents at their New Hyde Park, N.Y., home and informs them of his disappearance.

Afternoon: Prasad calls Colquitt, asking him to encourage the University to send an alert to all students regarding Harsha’s disappearance.

Also at this time, Parrott says EPD has been notified of Harsha’s disappearance and that UP is handling the investigation because the department filed the missing person report.

Around 6 p.m.: Harsha’s parents arrive in Chicago. They hastily booked a flight from New York earlier in the day in order to more closely deal with the developing situation in Evanston.

8:35 p.m.: The first emergency notification is sent to the NU community via email. The email includes information about Harsha’s physical appearance and what he was wearing on the night he went missing.

Tuesday, Sept. 25

Morning: UP meets with FBI officials to discuss the case. EPD assigns two detectives to the investigation into Harsha’s disappearance.

Wednesday, Sept. 26

Morning: The search for Harsha expands to Wilmette Harbor. The new effort includes the U.S. Coast Guard, divers and a sonar team.

Evening: Twenty-one law enforcement agencies and fire departments join the harbor search. They do not find any trace of Harsha.

Thursday, Sept. 27

Morning: University spokesman Al Cubbage tells reporters that authorities have called off the harbor search due to weather conditions. He calls Harsha’s disappearance a “somber start” to the school year.

6:43 p.m.: A fisherman calls the Wilmette Police Department and reports seeing a body floating in Wilmette Harbor. Shortly after the fisherman’s call, the U.S. Coast Guard and Wilmette Fire Department arrive on the scene to recover the body.

Around 9 p.m.: University Relations notifies reporters of a 10 p.m. news conference about an “update” in the investigation into Maddula’s disappearance.

Around 10:15 p.m.: Cubbage tells reporters that the body found in Wilmette Harbor has been identified as Harsha’s. The missing student’s wallet, WildCARD and cell phone were found on the body.

10:45 p.m.: Harsha is formally pronounced dead by the Cook County medical examiner.

Friday, Sept. 28

Afternoon: The Cook County medical examiner rules Harsha’s death a drowning. However, the manner of death, and whether or not it was an accident, remains undetermined.

Monday, Oct. 1

Harsha is laid to rest during a funeral attended by family and friends in New York.

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