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University of Chicago Student Found Dead in Dorm, Autopsy Inconclusive

By  Erica Demarest and Darryl Holliday | February 16, 2014 1:27pm | Updated on February 16, 2014 2:52pm

 Nicholas Barnes, 20, was discovered Saturday afternoon by police and first responders.
University of Chicago Student Found Dead in Dorm, Autopsy Inconclusive
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CHICAGO — A 20-year-old student was found dead in his University of Chicago dorm room Saturday.

Police and emergency responders found the student's body in the 1400 block of East 59th Street about 4:15 p.m., said Officer Michael Sullivan, a police spokesman.

Nicholas Barnes, 20, was pronounced dead on the scene at 4:50 p.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. Barnes lived in the university's International House, officials said.

In two letters to University of Chicago students, school officials said Barnes, a Germanic studies major, was involved in campus life, including the campus literary publication Sliced Bread. He was a resident of Halperin House his first year and later Booth House, and had studied abroad in the school's Vienna program in 2012.

He was a graduate of Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Post-Tribune reported.

"Nick will be painfully missed. He was an excellent student, admired by faculty and peers alike," the letter said. "The Student Counseling Service (SCS) and Spiritual Life staff are working together to provide support to students and community members affected by Nicholas’ death."

Barnes, a third-year student, was discovered after students reported a bad odor in the dorm's hallway, according to a police report obtained by the Tribune. Barnes had last used his university keycard to enter the building around 11 p.m. on Feb. 7, the report said.

School officials could not confirm evidence of an odor, but said the use of a keycard does not necessarily indicate that particular student hadn't left or re-entered the multi-student dorm after that time.

According to the letter sent to students, Barnes' family is planning a funeral in Pittsburgh, where Barnes grew up. The school will also hold a campus gathering for Barnes "to remember him and mourn our loss as a community."

School officials said Saturday they do not suspect foul play, the university's student newspaper, the Maroon, reported.

Detectives have classified the case as a death investigation, and no further details were immediately available.

An autopsy performed Sunday was inconclusive, pending toxicological blood tests.