Wife of Purdue professor found dead at Illinois landfill day after missing persons report

Mrs. Sumire Negishi at the Nobel banquet on December 10, 2010. Mrs. Negishi, from Japan, is married to the Nobel Chemistry laureate Ei-ichi Negishi. (Photo credit should read HENRIK MONTGOMERY / SCANPIX/AFP/Getty Images)

OGLE COUNTY, Ill. – The wife of a Purdue professor was found dead at a landfill in Rockford, Illinois early Tuesday morning.

Indiana State Police confirm the body of 80-year-old Sumire Negishi was located at the Orchard Hills Landfill after her husband, 82-year-old Dr. Ei-ichi Negishi, was found wandering a rural road. The couple’s vehicle was also discovered with the body.

When Ei-ichi was taken to a local hospital, police learned the couple’s family had reported them missing the day before. Police say the family had no indication the Negishis were in the Rockford area.

According to police, no foul play is suspected. Local law enforcement agencies are now leading the investigation.

Purdue University, where Ei-ichi teaches chemistry, issued the following statement regarding the incident:

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Sumire Negishi and offer our sincerest sympathies to the Negishi family from the entire Boilermaker family.”

Purdue University President Mich Daniels issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:

“Purdue University and the world have lost a dear friend in the death of Sumire Negishi. Throughout a lifetime of love and loyalty, she supported her husband in a career of tremendous contributions to science and to the teaching and training of subsequent generations of top scientists.

“It appears that the Parkinson’s disease from which she has been suffering and the mental confusion that age can bring to the most brilliant minds combined to produce the recent tragic events. That these phenomena are so common does not make their consequences any less cruel.

“All Boilermakers everywhere join the Negishi family in sadness at the loss of Sumire, who made so many of her own contributions to her husband’s life work and to the vitality of our community.”

Ei-ichi won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2010. He received the award for his work in synthesizing organic compounds.