Clarke County

Jose Ibarra: Here is what we know about the man accused of killing a nursing student on UGA campus

ATHENS — A man has been arrested in connection to the death of a 22-year-old nursing student.

The body of Laken Riley was found on University of Georgia’s Intramural Fields around noon Thursday. Officials said the body was found after one of her friends called 911 to report that she hadn’t come home from a jog.

During a press conference Friday, Chief Jeff Clark announced that 26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra of Venezuela was identified as a suspect in the crime. Although the motive is still unclear, Clark said that campus security cameras helped investigators identify Ibarra as Riley’s killer.

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“He did not know her at all. I think this was a crime of opportunity,” said Clark.

According to authorities, Ibarra moved to Athens from Venezuela. Clark confirmed that he is not a U.S. citizen and does not know when Ibarra arrived in Athens.

“He did not attend school at the University of Georgia,” said Clark. “This was an individual who woke up with bad intentions that day.”

Clark added that Riley and Ibarra did not know each other.

On Saturday, Ibarra was denied bond.


According to an incident report, an officer found her in the woods, beaten to death 30 minutes after when they believe the murder took place.

Twenty-four hours later, federal, state and city investigators were searching an apartment at a complex less than two miles from that crime scene, where they ultimately arrested Ibarra.

“The evidence suggests this was a solo act,” said Clark. “We took three or four people into custody. However, we’re only going to arrest one.”

Authorities have not said who the other two individuals who were detained are.

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.

More updated information provided by members of law enforcement confirmed that both Jose Ibarra and his brother Diego were in the United States as undocumented immigrants. Information from the U.S. Attorney’s Office said Diego Ibarra “is a citizen of Venezuela and was processed for expedited removal but claimed a credible fear of return to Venezuela. He was consequently released from immigration custody pending adjudication of his claim for asylum on April 30, 2024.”

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