Penn State student's death ruled accidental; police close investigation –


A VIGIL in memory of 19-year-old Justine Gross was held on Thursday, Nov. 18, outside Beaver Terrace apartment building, where police say the Penn State sophomore died after falling down an 11th-floor trash chute.

STATE COLLEGE — The death of a Penn State student who fell down an 11th-floor apartment building trash chute in November has been ruled accidental, the Centre County Coroner’s Office reported on Feb. 17.
Justine Gross, a 19-year-old sophomore from Summit, New Jersey, died of “multiple acute blunt force trauma, due to a fall,” according to Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers. Toxicology analysis conducted as part of the autopsy detected marijuana and an elevated level of alcohol.
State College police said in a statement that neither investigators nor the coroner’s office have obtained any information to indicate Gross’s death was criminal in nature.
“Justine Gross’ injuries and manner of death are consistent with a fall from the 11th floor of her apartment building,” the statement said. “Absent any new information or evidence, the State College Police Department is concluding our investigation into this matter.”
Police previously said that video evidence suggested Gross was alone at 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 10 in the 11th floor hallway of Beaver Terrace, 456 E. Beaver Ave., before the fall, and in the waste disposal room below.
She had last seen by friends that evening and was reported missing at 5:15 p.m. on Nov. 11.
The waste receptacle was removed by a borough refuse truck prior to her body being found, police said. State College police officers located her at 2:45 a.m. on Nov. 12 at the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority transfer station.
Francoise Gross, Justine’s mother, told in November that she learned her daughter met a man in the apartment building who offered her a marijuana blunt on the night of Nov. 10. She says she spoke to the man the day after her daughter went missing and he said Justine “had a really bad reaction, a panic, or whatever.”
Police reportedly showed Francoise Gross a video sequence of her daughter’s movements in the apartment building that night, according to The video allegedly showed Justine Gross leaving her 10th floor apartment and walking to the man’s apartment on the seventh floor.
She was then seen leaving the apartment with the man and walking unsteadily in the hallway, according to the report. Francoise Gross said the man told her he was trying to help Justine get back to her apartment after giving her “a smoke.”
She did not, however, return to her apartment. Francoise Gross said the next video showed Justine running on the 11th floor, apparently alone, and into the trash chute room, after which she was not seen again. Her cell phone and flip flops were found in the stairwell, Gross said.
Justine Gross reportedly sent a text message to a friend at 11:22 p.m. on Nov. 10 that said, “Something just happened.”
Police previously said that “eyewitness, video and forensic evidence” were being used to investigate the case and that all witnesses were fully cooperating.
On Nov. 18, Penn State students gathered at Beaver Terrace to hold a candlelight vigil to honor Gross’s life. Community members in her hometown did the same on Nov. 20.
“Our condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Gross and we hope the community can continue to respect their grieving process,” police wrote in a statement.
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