Justine Gross, a 19-year-old Pennsylvania State University student, died after reportedly falling 11 stories down a trash chute last week — and her mother wants answers.
According to NJ.com, Gross’ body was discovered two days later at a landfill when a garbage truck emptied its contents. Police said last week the college sophomore’s mysterious death appeared to be accidental, but that the matter was still under investigation.
Her mother, Francoise Gross, told the outlet that her daughter’s roommates said the 19-year-old was with a man at the Beaver Terrace Apartments in State College, Pennsylvania, with whom she smoked a “blunt” — a slang term for a marijuana cigar.
Francoise said she spoke with the man, who she only knew by his first name. She said the man claimed he shared a “smoke” with her daughter, but that Justine became “freaked out,” ran to the building’s top floor, and leapt into the garbage chute, plunging to her death.
“I said to him, ‘you’re the last one to see my daughter, what happened?’” the mother told NJ.com. “He said, kind of casually, like ‘she came down and I gave her a smoke.’”
“He said she had a really bad reaction, a panic, or whatever and he was trying to take her back to her apartment on the 10th floor,” she added.
Mother of Justine Gross Wants Answers
But Francoise Gross said she never asked authorities to cover up the facts of her daughter’s death. She also told the outlet that she isn’t convinced the college sophomore’s deadly plunge was an accident.
Justine’s mother is reportedly still waiting on the results of a toxicology report, which NJ.com said may take more than a month to be completed. In the meantime, Francoise claimed the information she’s gathered from her daughter’s friends and roommates point to foul play.
Surveillance Video Shows Gross’ Final Moments
Francoise Gross said that police showed her security camera footage from her apartment building the night she died. The 19-year-old’s mother said she saw video footage showing Justine leave her dorm on the Beaver Terrace Apartment building’s tenth floor to meet the unnamed man at his flat on the seventh floor.
Later, Francoise said, the video showed her daughter leaving the apartment with the man, and struggling to keep her balance. Justine’s final appearance on the security camera reportedly shows the college sophomore run to the building’s 11th floor, by herself, and enter the trash chute room. She never re-emerges.
According to her mother, Justine Gross sent an ominous message to her friend on Snapchat just before she died.
“Something just happened,” reads the message, which is time stamped at 11:22 on Nov. 10 — just before she is believed to have taken the deadly plunge.
Francoise told reporters that those facts don’t tell the whole story of her daughter’s death.
“That’s just not Justine. She would never do something like that, go down a chute,” her mother reportedly said. “They want me to believe she walked into that chute. I believe someone was chasing her and she went into the chute, thinking it was a staircase.”
Police later found Justine’s shoes and cellphone in the apartment stairwell.
As for the unnamed man with whom Justine Gross spent her final moments, Francoise said she was told police interviewed him twice — “but he’s now got a lawyer and he’s not talking,” the mother told reporters.
State College police reportedly did not return requests for comment on the case. Penn State officials released a statement, saying the university was “heartbroken for the family,” but that it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the circumstances of Gross’ death given the ongoing police investigation.
Francoise Gross said she won’t stop her search for answers to the questions surrounding her daughter’s mysterious death.
“I will bury her,” the 19-year-old’s mother told NJ.com. “But I want to know what happened to her.”