A psychology student who recently completed his second of two degrees from Minnesota universities was found dead in an Italian river as was his travel companion, according to international news media reports and friends in the United States.
Blair John, 28, who earned an undergraduate degree at St. John’s University followed by a master’s at the University of St. Thomas, was recovered Wednesday from the Po River in Turin, according to Italian Insider magazine and a Turin newspaper.
The discovery of John’s body by authorities came days after the body of Alrae Ramsey, 29, a foreign service officer for the Bahamas and also a St. John’s graduate, was located about 3 miles up the river in the heart of the city, the magazine said. Both had been reported missing.
Police have yet to offer specifics about what led to the men’s death other than to point out that Ramsey had a cut to his face, suggesting a fall, the news reports added.
Members of John’s family are in Italy attempting to learn more about his death. He was there for a working conference, friends and family have said.
Several of John’s friends who knew him in Minnesota find it odd that the two would both be found dead in the same river days and miles apart.
“The police leaning toward accidental or no foul play is kind of strange to me,” said former St. Thomas classmate Zander Tsadwa.
Another friend and former St. Thomas classmate, Stephanie Kaczynski, said. “Blair was around 6-foot-5 and lifted weights and worked out regularly. It is unlikely he would have accidentally drowned in the river.”
While at St. Thomas, John was a student worker in the Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS). He got his master’s in 2015.
“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Blair John, an alum of St. Thomas and a former student worker in OISS,” read a Facebook posting from the office. “He was an amazing person, always kind and caring, continued to keep in touch with each of us since he moved to Canada to pursue his Ph.D. program. He was an extremely smart person with such a big heart. We will miss him dearly.”
Before moving to Canada to further his studies, John worked as a substance abuse counselor in Minneapolis and then as a psychiatric associate for Fairview Health Services until the summer of 2017, according to his LinkedIn page.