Penn State student Justine Gross, 19, dies in the fall of the trash can

A Penn State student and former high school cheerleader fell 11 floors in a trash can – after allegedly having a bad reaction to a “smoke”.

The body of 19-year-old Justine Gross from Summit, NJ, was discovered last week when a garbage man emptied his cargo at a landfill in Pennsylvania, her mother told Thursday.

Francoise Gross said her daughter, another communications student at the school in State College, Pa., Ended up crashing from the chute into a container where she lived at Beaver Terrace Apartments about a block from campus.

The broken mother said Justin’s roommates told her her daughter had met a young man two days earlier who gave her a “smoke” before the fatal fall.

Beaver Terrace Apartments
Justine Gross had shared a “smoke” with a seventh-floor student in her building before descending from the top-floor trash can.
Google Maps

The man, who is also believed to be a student living on the seventh floor of the building, told Justine’s mother that her daughter ran to the top floor and jumped down the chute after taking the unspecified drug.

Her mother said she did not believe her daughter would willingly go into a trash can.

“He said a little casually, ‘She came down and I gave her a smoke,'” Francoise said. “He said she had a really bad reaction, panic or whatever, and he tried to take her back to her apartment on the 10th floor.”

Justine Gross
Footage showed Justine Gross leaving the apartment to a man on the seventh floor, who is also believed to be a student, and walking unevenly.

State College police have said Gross’s death appears to be coincidental, but her mother is not entirely convinced, reported.

The teenager sent a Snapchat message just moments before her fateful leap and told a friend, “Something just happened” last November 10th. Francoise Gross said she traveled to Penn State to meet with police, who showed her video of her daughter’s last moments.

The footage shows Justine leaving her apartment on the 10th floor and going to meet the man on the seventh floor, where she later walks while walking unstable. She never returned to her apartment – and instead ran into the trash can on the 11th floor alone and disappeared, reported.

“It’s just not Justine,” her mother said. “She would never do such a thing, go down a chute.

“They want me to think she went into the chute. I think someone was chasing her, and she went into the chute and thought it was a staircase.”

“I want to bury her,” Francoise Gross told “But I want to know what happened to her.”

Francoise said police have questioned the man twice, but that “he does not speak” after hiring a lawyer, according to the report.

State College police did not return phone calls Thursday, reported. A Penn State spokeswoman said Justin’s death took place off campus and that it would be “inappropriate” for the university to interfere in the investigation.

Moments before she died, Justine Gross sent out a Snapchat saying something happened.

“We are devastated on behalf of Justine Gross’ family and friends and extend our condolences to all who knew and loved her,” said PSU spokeswoman Lisa Powers.

Autopsy results for Gross – who was in his third semester at Penn State’s College of Liberal Arts – are expected to be completed in about six weeks, the Center Daily Times reported.

Francoise Gross
Francoise Gross, Justine Gross’ mother, does not believe her daughter’s death was an accident and believes someone chased her down the trash.

A shift for Gross will be held at Summit High School at 7 p.m. Friday. Her funeral will follow Saturday in St. Teresa of Avila Church in Summit, according to her obituary.


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