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Police Close Investigation Into 19-Year-Old Student’s Death

Months after a 19-year-old Penn State student died following an 11-story fall, police are officially closing their investigation.

On Thursday, State College police released new information surrounding the death of Justine Gross, who died in November after falling down a Beaver Terrace Apartments trash chute. The Centre County Coroner’s Office labeled Gross’s death as an “accident,” while police said her injuries and “manner of death” are consistent with an 11-story fall.

During the investigation, police ran a toxicology analysis with samples obtained from Gross’s liver tissue. A final lab report indicated she had traces of marijuana and “an elevated level” of alcohol in her system when she died.

“At this time, no new information has been obtained by State College Police or the Centre County Coroner’s Office to indicate that this death is criminal in nature,” Thursday’s published report reads.

Gross’s body was located by police officers at the Centre County Recycling & Refuse Authority transfer station at 2:45 a.m. on November 12, one day after she was reported missing.

In an interview with NJ.com, Gross’s mother, Francoise, alleged that she’d spoken with a man who offered Justine a blunt on November 10. He said she later “freaked out” after taking the drug, ran to the building’s top floor, and jumped into the chute. Francoise said she was “shocked” by the man’s claim and noted that, to her knowledge, her daughter didn’t use drugs.

According to NJ.com, police footage allegedly showed Justine leaving her 10th-floor apartment, meeting the suspected man, and later walking “unsteadily” through the halls. Video also allegedly showed Justine running into the chute room “where she disappears and is not seen again.”

To date, police have not arrested or charged anyone in relation to Gross’s death. Without any new information or evidence, State College police have closed the case.

On November 18, Penn State students gathered at Beaver Terrace to hold a candlelight vigil to honor Gross’s life. Community members in her hometown of Summit, New Jersey, did the same on November 20.

“Our condolences to the family and friends of Ms. Gross,” State College police wrote. “We hope the community can continue to respect their grieving process.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State with distinction in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email (mattdisanto86@gmail.com) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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