University Student Found Murdered on Campus After Going for Run

A 26-year-old man, Jose Antonio Ibarra, has been apprehended and charged with the murder of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student at Augusta University. Riley’s lifeless body was discovered on the University of Georgia campus after she had gone for a run, as per the police report. Ibarra, who is not a student at the University of Georgia and is not a U.S. citizen, was arrested on Friday on charges of kidnapping and murder, according to UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark.

Clark, in a press conference on Friday, stated that Ibarra and Riley had no previous connection. He suggested that the crime was likely a chance occurrence, where Ibarra spotted Riley and subsequently committed the heinous act.

Riley, a dean’s list scholar and sorority member, was found in a wooded area near Lake Herrick with visible injuries around noon on Thursday. The cause of death was confirmed as blunt force trauma.

While authorities were searching Ibarra’s Athens apartment, Clark stated that they had gathered enough evidence to charge him even before the search warrant was executed. The evidence, according to Clark, was substantial and supported by community input, physical evidence, and expert police work. Video footage from the campus security cameras also played a crucial role in the investigation.

Several persons of interest were interrogated, but only Ibarra was charged. Ibarra faces charges of malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another. Clark did not disclose Ibarra’s country of origin or his legal status in the U.S.

Riley was reported missing by a friend after she went for a run around the Intramural Fields on UGA’s East Campus. She had transferred to Augusta University’s nursing program from the University of Georgia after the spring 2023 semester but remained active in her sorority, Alpha Chi Omega, at UGA.

This tragic incident was the second death on UGA’s campus within 24 hours. Another student was found dead in a dorm room on Wednesday, an incident police stated was unrelated to Riley’s death. Both UGA and the Augusta University College of Nursing canceled classes on Friday in the wake of these events.