A Penn State student found dead last week died after an 11-story fall through a trash chute at her State College apartment, borough police confirmed Friday.

The department offered details of Justine Gross’ final moments for the first time Friday, one day after the sophomore’s mother discussed her daughter’s death with a New Jersey publication.

Francoise Gross told NJ.com a man who lived at Beaver Terrace apartments offered her daughter a blunt last Wednesday. She “freaked out,” after taking the drug and later ran to the 11th floor and jumped into the chute.

The 19-year-old plunged into the dumpster about 11:30 p.m. Nov. 10, police wrote in a statement. The department made no mention of what preceded her fall.

Justine Gross was reported missing Nov. 11 and was found in the early hours of Nov. 12 at the Centre County Recycling and Refuse Authority. Her mother met with police, who shared video of what happened before the fall.

According to the mother, Justine left her 10th floor apartment and met the man at his apartment on the seventh floor. Video showed her leaving with him, walking unsteadily.

She ran to the 11th floor, into the room with the trash chute and was not seen again. Her cellphone and flip-flops were found in a stairwell.

Police said the video suggested Justine Gross was alone in the moments before her fall. Her mother disagreed, telling NJ.com she believes “someone was chasing her and she went into the chute, thinking it was a staircase.”

She insinuated the man was not cooperating with police, though the department said “all witnesses are still fully cooperating” with the ongoing investigation.

Francoise Gross expressed shock when police told her what they believed happened. To her knowledge, Justine didn’t use drugs, she told the publication.

Police declined to provide details in the days after Justine Gross’ death, saying it was done at the request of the family. Her father has not publicly discussed his daughter’s death.

“At this point, the incident still appears to be accidental in nature,” police wrote.

Dozens of Beaver Terrace residents gathered at a candlelight vigil Thursday to remember the sophomore who was in the College of the Liberal Arts. A handful declined to speak with the Centre Daily Times, saying they either did not know Gross personally or because of the family’s request.

The Centre County Coroner’s Office expects to finalize its report by mid-to-late December. Centre County District Attorney Bernie Cantorna declined comment Friday.

Gross’ funeral is scheduled for noon Saturday in New Jersey.


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