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21-Year-Old Student Found Dead in Columbia University Dorm

By Jess Wisloski | March 31, 2013 5:22pm | Updated on March 31, 2013 10:11pm

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — A 21-year-old student was found dead Sunday morning in a Columbia University dormitory, according to police and reports.

Jessica Fingers, of Monticello, N.Y., a Columbia College student on leave, was found at 11:48 a.m. inside the East Campus Residence Hall on Morningside Drive, police said.

Police responding to a 911 call found the young woman unconscious and unresponsive, lying face-up on the floor, police said. EMS later determined she was dead at the scene.

Several students at the dormitory said they'd heard Fingers had been visiting friends at Columbia, and was found in the hallway of the dorm, which is the largest and most desirable dorm at Columbia, according to a campus wiki. It includes a large high-rise housing complex as well as a series of interconnected low-rise townhouses,

Fingers had originally been a member of the Columbia College class of 2013, but had been on leave since last spring, the Columbia Spectator campus newspaper reported.

Saturday nights are typically a party night in the residence hall, one student noted.

"I don't remember anything special," said senior Henry Sohn. "Loud music. It died out around 3 or 4."

Some students said they were shaken by the incident.

"It's super bizarre," said John Yetimogolu, a senior who lives in the dorm.

Fingers had been a long-distance track runner, the Spectator reported, and was majoring in sociology up until the time of her leave.

Henry Flager, a senior, said he learned about the incident from a campus email sent by Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger about 6:30 p.m.

"It's just strange to me that it took them seven hours to release anything," said Flager. "I came back from the gym this morning and there were cops in the lobby."

"It's definitely strange," he added, speaking about the circumstances surrounding Fingers' death.

The Medical Examiner will determine the cause of death, police said, adding that it did not appear to be suspicious. An investigation was ongoing.

Officials from Columbia University did not return calls on Sunday evening.

Additional reporting by Henry Gass.