Clarke County

‘Crime of opportunity;’ UGA police announce arrest in nursing student murder investigation

ATHENS, Ga. — University of Georgia officials have confirmed that they have taken a suspect into custody in the murder of a 22-year-old nursing student on the UGA campus.

Friends reported Laken Riley missing after they say she went for a jog Thursday near the university’s intermural fields and never returned.

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Police found her unconscious and injured in a wooded area behind the fields around 12:30 p.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene and police have ruled her death a homicide. Police said Riley died of blunt-force trauma.

On Friday, Channel 2′s Michael Seiden reported live as police swarmed an apartment complex off S. Milledge Avenue.

Police have since confirmed the arrest of 26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra, who is expected to be charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another.

Ibarra is not a U.S. citizen and was not a student at UGA, according to UGA police.


Police said Ibarra and Riley did not know each other and called it a “crime of opportunity.” They said they believe Ibarra acted alone.

“This is an individual who woke up with bad intentions on that day,” UGA police chief Jeff Clark said.

Seiden saw two more men escorted to the back of police cars. It’s unclear if those people are suspects or persons of interest.

Seiden also saw investigators bringing floodlights into the apartment complex.

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