Who was Laken Riley, the nursing student found dead on UGA campus? - Hindustan Times

Who was Laken Riley, the nursing student found dead on University of Georgia campus? Here's what we know so far

Feb 24, 2024 12:40 PM IST

Shockwaves reverberate as the UGA campus witnesses its first homicide in 41 years. Laken Riley, a promising nursing student, found dead in a jogging area.

The University of Georgia (UGA) campus was shocked by the first homicide in 41 years, when the body of Laken Hope Riley was discovered on February 22.

Who killed Laken Hope Riley? The mystery of the UGA campus homicide(Facebook)
Who killed Laken Hope Riley? The mystery of the UGA campus homicide(Facebook)

Riley, a 22-year-old senior nursing student at Augusta University College of Nursing at Athens, was found unresponsive and injured at the intramural fields behind Lake Herrick, where she had gone for a jog. Her roommate had reported her missing earlier that day.

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UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark said, “The individual was unconscious and not breathing and had visible injuries.”

Police detained a suspect

On Friday, officials confirmed that Riley’s death was a homicide and that they had detained prime suspect, Jose Antonio Ibarra, who was being questioned and tagged with multiple charges.

ALSO READ| Laken Riley murder: Nursing student found dead on University of Georgia campus, suspect in custody

A UGA spokesperson told Daily Mail, “We want to stress that this continues to be an active, ongoing investigation, and we will provide further updates when circumstances warrant.”

Clark also assured that the police officers were “not going to leave any rock unturned in this investigation.” He added, “When you have a suspect that’s on the loose, there’s always a danger. But there’s no immediate danger at this time.”

Who was Laken Riley?

Riley was a native of Woodstock, Georgia, and a graduate of River Ridge High School in 2020. She had earned her undergraduate degree at UGA in 2023, before enrolling in the nursing program at Augusta University.

She was an avid runner and a member of her high school's cross-country and track teams. Cherokee County School District Superintendent Brian Hightower also praised her as an outstanding scholar-athlete.

She was a part of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and had a close bond with her family, who often shared her achievements and milestones on social media.

Her mother, Allyson Phillips, posted photos and a video of Riley’s white coat ceremony at the nursing program on Facebook in August 2023.

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“Today was a proud mamma moment! We celebrated Laken starting nursing school at her white coat ceremony. This girl works harder than anyone I have ever met! I am just so beyond proud and I can’t wait to see what God has planned her,” she wrote.

Riley’s tragic death has left her family, friends, and the UGA community in grief and disbelief.

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