Nursing student found dead on University of Georgia campus, suspect in custody - Hindustan Times
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Laken Riley murder: Nursing student found dead on University of Georgia campus, suspect in custody

Feb 24, 2024 09:05 AM IST

Arrest made in the brutal murder of University of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley. Suspect faces charges including malice murder.

The University of Georgia (UGA) Police Department announced on Friday that they have arrested a suspect in the brutal murder of Laken Hope Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student who was found dead in a wooded area on campus.

Police said Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, that they are questioning a “person of interest” in the death of Laken Riley, a nursing student whose body was found on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., after not returning from a run. (Augusta University via AP)(AP)
Police said Friday, Feb. 23, 2024, that they are questioning a “person of interest” in the death of Laken Riley, a nursing student whose body was found on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, Ga., after not returning from a run. (Augusta University via AP)(AP)

The suspect, Jose Antonio Ibarra, is facing multiple charges, including malice murder, felony murder, and kidnapping. He is not a U.S. citizen and is believed to be from Venezuela, according to authorities.

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Who was Laken Riley?

Riley was a former UGA student and a junior at the Augusta University College of Nursing in Athens. She went missing on Thursday morning after she went for a run near the UGA’s Intramural Fields and Lake Herrick, a popular recreational area with playing fields, tennis courts, and trails. A friend of hers contacted the UGA police around noon, worried that she had not returned.

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The police launched a search and found her body behind Lake Herrick, with “visible injuries” that suggested blunt-force trauma. She was not breathing and had no pulse. The police and paramedics tried to resuscitate her, but it was too late. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

The murder was a ‘crime of opportunity’: Georgia police chief

The police chief, Jeffrey L. Clark, said that the murder was a “crime of opportunity” and that there was no evidence of any prior relationship between the victim and the suspect. He said that the police had “robust” evidence against Ibarra, thanks to the campus security cameras and other sources. He also said that the police initially detained three to four people during the investigation, but only Ibarra was charged.

The college issued a statement on Friday afternoon, saying, “A suspect in the murder of Laken Riley has been taken into custody by the University of Georgia Police Department. At this time, there are no indications of a continuing threat to the UGA campus related to this matter.”

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The college also offered counselling and support services to the students and staff who were affected by the tragedy.

The police chief said that the autopsy results were still pending, but the case was being treated as a homicide. He urged anyone who witnessed anything “relevant or suspicious” between 7 a.m. and noon on Thursday around the area where Riley was found to call the UGA police at 706-542-2200. He also expressed his condolences to the family and friends of Riley, saying, “She was a bright young lady with a promising future.”

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