Profiler: Student killed at UGA likely fought back

ATHENS, Ga. — Disturbing new details have emerged about the murder of a 22-year-old nursing student on the University of Georgia campus last week.

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Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Ashli Lincoln was in Athens Tuesday, where Laken Riley was beaten to death along a running trail on Thursday.

Warrants suggest the accused killer, Jose Ibarra, beat Riley over the head wtih an object.

Lincoln went through the warrants with John Lang Jr., a former GBI investigator and criminal profiler, to learn what might have happened during the assault.

“In this case, the offender was met with resistance which he wasn’t expecting, and it got overpowering and he couldn’t control it and he restored to violence,” Lang said.


The documents accuse Ibarra of kidnapping Riley between 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. Lang suspects that he panicked and that’s why he hit her in the head.

“But he didn’t know what he was in for and I suspect she probably fought back,” Lang said. “He’s not a very big fellow and he may have been overwhelmed by her size and her strengths and tenacity to fight back.”

According to court documents, Ibarra is 5′7″ and 185 pounds.

Ibarra eventually dragged her body to a secluded area. Investigators said that at some point, Ibarra also hindered a 911 call that Riley tried to make.

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“Concealing her body, that’s just an opportunity to distance himself from the crime,” Lang said.

Lang said that in terms of motive, only Ibarra can answer that, but when a woman is attacked by a man, investigators can’t rule out if the motive was sexual.

“In looking at this whole thing, this is like a disorganized offender. That’s what we call them” Lang said. “He just does it on the spur of the moment for whatever motivating factors”

Legal experts said that it’s possible that because Ibarra lived in an apartment complex near the trail that he simply walked from the property and onto the trail.

“That’s where the guy lives,” Lang said. “Anybody could probably predict that’s probably where he approached her from at least.”

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.

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