Sister of nursing student found dead on UGA campus posts heartbreaking tribute

WOODSTOCK, Ga. — The younger sister of a 22-year-old nursing student killed on UGA’s campus Thursday posted a heartbreaking message about her sister on Instagram.

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Laken Riley was found dead near UGA’s intermural fields around noon on Thursday after friends called 911 to report she hadn’t returned from a jog.


On Friday, police announced that a suspect has been taken into custody and faces murder charges. The suspect has been identified as 26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra. Investigators said she died from blunt force trauma.

Riley’s younger sister, Lauren Phillips, posted about her on Instagram Friday, writing:

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“The best sister and my built-in best friend from the very first second. This isn’t fair and I will never understand it but I know you are in heaven with the man you loved most right now. I’m not sure how I’m going to do this but it’s all going to be for you from now on. I cannot wait to give you the biggest hug someday. I will miss and love you forever Laken.”

Along with the message, Phillips posted pictures of herself and her sister as children and then as young adults.

Riley was a native of Woodstock and was a junior nursing student at Augusta University’s campus in Athens.

Phillips’ post marks the first public comments anyone from Riley’s immediate family has made since her death. Channel 2′s Cobb County Bureau Chief Michele Newell spoke to the family, who wasn’t ready to talk on camera.