Tags: dead | columbia | dorm | police

Dead in Columbia Dorm: Police Suspect Drugs in Woman's Death

Monday, 01 Apr 2013 01:55 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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A former Columbia University student was found dead of an apparent drug overdose in a dorm room on the school's New York City campus on Sunday.

Jessica Fingers, 21, of Monticello, N.Y., had taken a leave of absence from the school last spring but was reportedly staying with a female friend and visiting her boyfriend, both current Columbia students. Police said the two discovered Fingers' unconscious body in the dorm room around 11:45 a.m.and called the authorities.

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"I woke up and the love of my life was dead next to me," Peter Russell, Fingers' boyfriend, wrote on his Facebook page.

Medical examiners have yet to declare a cause of death but police said they suspect it was a drug overdose.

"It is with deep sadness and regret that I write to inform you of the untimely loss of one of our students, who has been on leave from Columbia but visiting campus at the time of her passing," Columbia Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger wrote in a campus e-mail.

Fingers was reportedly studying sociology at Columbia on a full scholarship and was also a standout on the school's cross-country team, according to The River Reporter, a local paper near Fingers' hometown in upstate New York.

"From her first visit to Columbia, Fingers' heart was won by the school’s allure, with its impeccable reputation and wonderful Manhattan location, the warmth and dedication of the young women in the running program and, of course, the coaches, including head cross-country and track and field coach Willy Wood," the paper reported.

It's not clear why Fingers took a leave of absence from Columbia, but she reportedly had health problems, according to the New York Daily News. She appeared to have suffered last year from a series of blood clots in her brain and a stroke, according to her mother’s Facebook page.

"My beautiful, strong daughter, Jessica is making a speedy recovery after her stroke," wrote Athena Fingers-Bellamy on Feb. 6, 2012.

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