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College Student Laken Riley Killed on Campus

Left: Josè Antonio Ibarra					Right: Laken Riley
Left: Josè Antonio Ibarra Right: Laken Riley

Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student at Augusta University in Georgia, was killed on February 22, 2024, while out for her morning jog at the intramural fields at the neighboring University of Georgia campus (New York Times). Riley’s body was found with significant blunt-force trauma in Oconee Forest Park near Lake Herrick, a popular attraction among UGA students. 

The convicted killer, 26-year-old Josè Antonio Ibarra, faces several charges including malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another.  Ibarra was also an undocumented immigrant from Venezuela, living in Athens illegally (heavy.com). This has sparked national debate over U.S. immigration policies, and the case even made it to President Biden’s State of the Union Address in response to Republicans’ urging stricter immigration policies. 

Ramapo U.S. history teacher, Mrs. Vander Molen, commented, “It’s always heartbreaking to learn of vibrant and ambitious young adults falling victim to thoughtless murder, but the issue of Laken Riley also presents America with other conflicting issues. Aside from the fact that we need to be reminded that women are still often targeted, this particular case prompts us as a nation to have constructive conversations about the best way to address issues that we have faced from our inception. Balancing the freedoms we so pridefully enjoy while keeping communities safe requires our local and federal agencies to work together and set aside partisan conflicts for resolutions.”

Ramapo junior Julietta Emmolo expresses, “Having an older brother in college makes this experience so much scarier. It makes you realize that anything can happen no matter where you are or what you are doing.”

The death of Laken Riley has deeply affected the UGA community and their families. UGA sophomore Juliana DeFino said, “It’s sad that women don’t feel safe doing activities alone on campus anymore. My friend lives right by the intramural fields and goes to the gym by herself all the time. It’s really scary to think about.” This devastating case has sparked fear among parents whose children are states away at college. 

The University of Georgia mourns the loss of this young girl as the United States government continues to investigate the case and uncover how this man was able to commit such an atrocity. Laken Riley’s death has encouraged young girls around the country to take extra precautions in their everyday lives, including being extremely aware of their surroundings and having their location known by others at all times.

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Savannah DeFino, Assistant Editor

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