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Family still searching for answers one year after death of IU student

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The family of an Indiana University student said they are still searching for answers one year after his disappearance and death in Bloomington.

Joseph Smedley, 20, was a junior studying biochemistry. He was found dead at a Griffy Lake near campus last October.

“Having him not in my life is like a big hole that won’t be filled ever,” said Vivianne Smedley, Joseph’s sister.

Vivianne Smedley told 24-Hour News 8 this past year has been difficult and frustrating for her family.

The Monroe County Coroner’s Office ruled her brother’s death a suicide by drowning, but her family believes foul play was involved.

Now they are hoping to raise enough money to hire a private investigator to take another look at the case.

Smedley said she thinks about her younger brother every day and does not believe he would take his own life, despite the ruling from the coroner’s office.

“Absolutely do not believe that it was a suicide, there’s way too many circumstantial evidence that we’ve collected that said otherwise,” she said.

Family reported Joseph missing on Sept. 28, 2015. His body was found days later at a lake about a mile away from campus.

“I’m not sure what could have happened, but he had binoculars around his neck when they found him in the water,” she said. “So that leads me to believe since it was a full moon that he was out looking at the moon.”

Smedley believes her brother was not alone that night.

“I’m sure he was out with friends so whether it was an accident or something malicious happened someone out there knows and they’re just not coming forward about it,” she said.

Smedley said she will continue to push for answers into her brother’s death. They are now looking for outside help.

“Once the second autopsy is completed we’ll be going to hire a private investigator who also will need access to the notes and the files that the police department have gathered as well,” she said.

Smedley said a vigil will be held Wednesday evening on campus at Indiana University to honor her brother. The vigil will be held at Neal Marshall Black Cultural Center form 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.