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Who was Laken Hope Riley? University of Georgia Nursing Student found Dead on Campus

Laken Hope Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student, was discovered deceased at the intramural fields of the University of Georgia on February 22, approximately at 12:30 PM. Her roommate had reported her missing and informed that Riley had not come back home after her jog.

According to UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark, the individual was found unconscious, not breathing, and had visible injuries.

On Friday, authorities officially declared that the cause of death for the Augusta University attendee was homicide. This incident marks the first occurrence of homicide on the UGA campus in 41 years.

Who was Laken Riley?

Riley, a Woodstock, Georgia native, graduated from River Ridge High School in 2020. Following this, she completed her undergraduate studies at UGA in 2023, and later pursued a nursing program at Augusta University.

Riley was actively involved in running, being a member of both the cross-country and track teams at her high school. Cherokee County School District Superintendent Brian Hightower commended her for excelling as a scholar-athlete.

Additionally, she was affiliated with the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and maintained a strong bond with her family, who frequently shared her accomplishments and milestones on social media platforms.

In August 2023, Riley’s mother, Allyson Phillips, took to Facebook to share photos and a video from Riley’s white coat ceremony at the nursing program.

Has The Suspect Been Found?

UGA police Chief Jeff Clark made an announcement on Friday that Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26 years old, and a suspect in the death of Riley, is facing charges of malice and felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another.

How has the UGA community reacted since her death?

Hightower provided a written statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in response to Riley’s death.

‘Laken’s passion for learning and her kindness towards others served as an inspiration to her classmates and teachers. We kindly request the community to keep her family in their thoughts.’

Yesterday, the University of Georgia issued a statement on their official website.

‘We have been fully informed about this tragic incident. There are suspicions of foul play, and we are already receiving assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Athens-Clarke County Police Department to conduct a thorough investigation into this crime,’ the statement read.

The university also urged anyone with information regarding the incident to ‘immediately contact the UGA Police Department.’

‘Furthermore, we advise individuals to travel in groups whenever possible and remain vigilant of their surroundings,’ added UGA officials.

In light of the situation, all classes at the university have been canceled starting from 5:30 on February 22 and will resume on Monday.


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