Students at the University of Chicago thought the smell in the hallway of their dorm was getting pretty bad, but none suspected that it emanated from the body of a student lying dead in his dorm room, maybe for up to a week.
Authorities aren’t quite sure when 20-year-old Nicholas Barnes passed away, but he last used his keycard to enter the dorm on February 7. He had not been seen after that time, until his dead body was discovered foul and putrefying in the dorm room where he lived alone.
Despite the February 7 date for the use of the entry card, though, school officials say that students let each other in and out all the time without using their cards. So, Barnes may have lived an unknown number of days after the 7th.
Chicago police entered Barnes’ dorm on February 15 after enough students complained of the foul odor coming from the room. Officials said that Barnes, a student from Pennsylvania, had been dead for an undetermined number of days.
At this point, the Cook County Medical Examiner doesn’t think that the young man’s death is a result of foul play or suicide, but toxicology results are yet to be returned, and that may change the determination.
Naturally, the students are quite unsettled by the incident.
One student told ABC7 News, “I think that if I didn’t speak to any of my friends for a week they would start to notice. And the classes are small here too, so you’d think that someone in your class would notice.”
Madeline Kowalski, another U of C student, said she was “just mostly confused and shocked that this could have been going on since February 7th and we had no idea.”
Susan Art, the university’s dean of students, said that Mr. Barnes would be missed. “Nick will be painfully missed. He was an excellent student, admired by faculty and peers alike.”
In a statement to the school, Art also noted that several memorials are being planned.
“Nick’s family is planning a funeral in Pittsburgh, which is where Nick grew up. There will also be a campus memorial for Nick so that we can gather to remember him and mourn our loss as a community.”