Man Charged in Georgia Nursing Student’s Death

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A female nursing student found dead Feb. 22 in a wooded area of the University of Georgia campus in Athens hours after she failed to return from a run at a nearby intramural field was described as a wonderful daughter, sister and friend who would have saved many lives as a nurse.

Laken Riley, 22, was a University of Georgia graduate and a student in the Augusta University College of Nursing program, scheduled to graduate in 2025. Riley’s friends called police after the woman didn’t return from her morning run. Her body was found in a forested area near Lake Herrick hours later afternoon with blunt force injuries. She was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

“Her infection smile and contagious laugh lit up every room she entered,” says the introduction to a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses, create a scholarship in her name and to promote homicide awareness.

Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, has been charged with murder in connection with Riley’s death. Authorities said he lived a short distance from where the crime took place. He was born in Venezuela who was not a U.S. citizen. He entered the country illegally in 2022 and lived in New York City before moving to Georgia, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

The two did not know each other, UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark said Friday. Chief Clark characterized the murder as a crime of opportunity. OSM

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