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'National Outrage' Over Murder of Laken Riley - Family Grieves Her Death, Honors Her Faith in Christ

Laken Riley

The family of the 22-year-old nursing student who was found dead at the University of Georgia's campus last week is speaking out following her tragic death.

Laken Riley was murdered last Thursday in Augusta, Georgia while jogging on a well-used trail near her school's campus. 

According to an affidavit filed on February 23, Jose Antonia Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, was arrested in connection with the crime and is accused of "dragging the victim to a secluded area."

It adds that Ibarra, 26, "did commit the offense of aggravated battery when he maliciously causes bodily harm to another by seriously disfiguring her body or a member thereof by disfiguring her skull."

Ibarra is charged with malice murder, murder, kidnapping, false imprisonment, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, and concealing the death of another, as well as the misdemeanor of physically hindering a 911 call.

The University of Georgia police department found Riley's body in a forested area near Lake Herrick after her roommate called to say she went jogging that morning and still hadn't returned. 

A sergeant arrived near the lake with a defibrillator attempting to revive her but was unable to. 

Law enforcement has not revealed how Riley was killed, but shared that she was found with "visible injuries" and that blunt force trauma occurred. 

Cops called the murder a "crime of opportunity."

"He did not know her at all," UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark said Friday. "I think this is a crime of opportunity where he saw an individual and bad things happened."

In a statement released Sunday, her family thanked Georgia law enforcement for their "quick response and diligent effort" in finding their daughter's killer, Fox News reported.

"We wish to thank the public for their prayers and thoughts during this tragic time. We thank the University of GA Police Department, Athens-Clarke County Police Department, the Clarke County District Attorney's Office, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for their quick response, and diligent effort in the investigation and arrest of those individual(s) responsible for our daughter's death," the statement said.

"Laken was an amazing daughter, sister, friend, and overall person in general. Her love for the Lord was exemplified in every aspect of her life. She will be missed every day, but we promise to honor her life moving forward in a very big way," the family's statement continued.

"During this most difficult time, we ask that you respect our privacy, and provide us the time and space necessary to grieve our daughter's life that was tragically cut short," it read.

Riley was completing her nursing degree at August University which is nearby the University of Georgia.

According to the New York Post, Ibarra had moved to Georgia to live with his brother after splitting from his wife.

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Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has confirmed Ibarra is a Venezuelan national who entered the U.S. illegally in 2022 near El Paso, Texas. 

He was previously apprehended by ICE and New York Police Department officials for separate infractions but was released due to the Biden administration's "catch and release" policy.  

In 2023, he was "charged with acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17 and a motor vehicle license violation." 

Athens-Clarke County Police Department told Fox News Ibarra had also been cited for shoplifting in the county and has an outstanding bench warrant for failing to appear in court on the shoplifting charges. 

Ibarra's brother, Diego Ibarra, was arrested last week for reportedly possessing a fake green card. Law enforcement was going to expedite his removal, but he expressed fears about returning to Venezuela.

slider img 2Georgia's Republican Gov. Brian Kemp wrote a letter Saturday to Joe Biden in response to Riley's murder and the news of Ibarra's brother.

"Laken Riley's tragic death struck the hearts of Georgians everywhere and has rightfully sparked national outrage," said Governor Brian Kemp. "As I have said many times before: every state is now a border state because of Joe Biden's inaction, and today I am again demanding answers and information from the Biden Administration that will help us protect our citizens when the federal government will not."

Last September, Kemp joined 24 other governors in writing a letter demanding  "accurate, detailed, thorough data and information" related to illegal border crossings due to Biden's "policies which incentivize illegal immigration."


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