Visitation held for slain VSU student

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LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - Classmates, friends and family are saying goodbye to a Gwinnett County teenager found dead in a dormitory study area at Valdosta State.

Investigators are treating the case as a homicide.

The teen's friends told Channel 2's Kerry Kavanaugh they are struggling to make sense of the loss.

"She was always there when you needed her. It's still really hard right now," friend Brandon Pruitt said.

Pruitt said it's hard to say goodbye and it's hard not knowing what happened to 17-year-old Jasmine Benjamin.

Benjamin was found dead in a study room in her dormitory at Valdosta State University Sunday, Nov. 18.

Campus police first thought she died of natural causes. Authorities are now treating the case as a homicide, though the cause of death is still unclear.

"(She was) a girl that was into nothing bad, always had a good head on her shoulders. So it's just really hard to believe," Pruitt told Kavanaugh.

Pruitt was among the many friends and family members who lined up outside the Lawrenceville funeral home hosting Jasmine's viewing Wednesday.

Pruitt said Benjamin was his classmate and friend at Central Gwinnett High School. They were members of a community service club and graduated together last spring.

"Great student, teachers loved her, students loved her," Pruitt said about Benjamin.

Like many people, including Benjamin's parents, Pruitt learned his friend was dead on Facebook.

"I just sat there in disbelief," Pruitt said.

So far, Valdosta police have not named any suspects.

Pruitt said he couldn't imagine anyone would want to hurt his friend, whom he described as happy, energetic and caring.

The college freshman was just shy of her 18th birthday, which she would have celebrated on Saturday.

Kavanaugh spoke to the commander at the Valdosta Police Department Wednesday afternoon. He said there are no new developments in the investigation and they continue to interview witnesses and collect evidence to turn over to the GBI.

Benjamin's funeral is set for Thursday morning.