Georgia student murder suspect confirmed to be illegal immigrant

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The suspect charged in connection with the murder of a 22-year-old Georgia nursing student has been confirmed as an illegal immigrant originally from Venezuela, Fox News Digital has learned.

26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra, the suspect charged in the murder of nursing student Laken Riley on the University of Georgia campus, is a Venezuelan national who crossed illegally into El Paso, Texas, in September 2022 and was released into the U.S. via parole, three ICE & DHS sources told Fox News.

ICE does not currently have an official comment on the situation.

Ibarra was taken into custody by UGA police on Friday. He measures 5 feet 3 inches and weighs 170 pounds, according to the Clarke County Sheriff’s Department’s booking sheet. Laken measured 5 feet 4 inches, weighing 115 pounds, according to a UGA Police Department report.

Police have charged Ibarra with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another, UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark said during a news briefing Friday evening.

Ibarra appeared in court on Saturday morning, where Clarke County Magistrate Judge Donarell Green denied his bond “for today.” Two translators were present. Ibarra nodded when spoken to.

Riley, an Augusta University nursing student, was found dead Thursday after previously attending UGA before entering a nursing program at Augusta’s Athens campus, where she made the Dean’s List.

Police initially swept up three to four people during the early stages of the investigation but were only arresting and charging Ibarra, Clark said.

Police were asking anyone who saw anything “relevant or suspicious” between 7 a.m. and noon Thursday around UGA’s Intramural Fields and Lake Herrick to call 706-542-2200.

That’s where they found Riley – with “visible injuries” – within 30 minutes after they received a call from a concerned friend who said she went for a run and didn’t come back.

According to an incident report obtained by Fox News Digital, multiple officers began searching for Riley near the Intramural Fields around 12:07 p.m. At 12:38, a UGA police officer spotted her on the ground.

I called out to Riley, and I did not get a response,” the officer wrote.

She had visible injuries, and police could not locate a pulse. They began CPR anyway. A sergeant arrived with a defibrillator minutes later and unsuccessfully attempted to revive the victim.

Autopsy results remained pending Friday, but authorities said they were investigating her death as a homicide. Clark said it appeared as though she had been killed by blunt-force trauma.

Classes and events at both universities were canceled

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