Illegal immigrant arrested for murder of Georgia college student was released from detention over lack of space

Jose Antonio Ibarra
Jose Antonio Ibarra

Jose Antonio Ibarra, a 26-year-old Venezuelan national arrested in connection with the murder of Laken Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student on the University of Georgia campus, had been released from detention after entering the U.S. illegally.

The University of Georgia Police Department announced Ibarra’s arrest, saying he had no prior relationship with Riley and that he faces multiple charges, including malice murder and kidnapping, as reported by the New York Post.

Ibarra entered the U.S. illegally from Venezuela in September 2022. His illegal entry through El Paso, Texas, was facilitated by his release due to a lack of detention space.

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“Multiple DHS sources confirm the suspect in UGA student, Laken Riley’s murder — José Antonio Ibarra is here illegally from Venezuela,” journalist Ali Bradley on X. “CBP documents show he crossed in September of 2022 into El Paso, Texas and was released due to lack of detention space. The 26 year old from Venezuela … is being charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another.”

Riley, a junior and dean’s list student at UGA, was found dead Thursday after she went for a jog on campus, NewsNation said. The cause of death was identified as blunt force trauma.

Riley, who was active in her sorority and the community, was reported missing by a friend on Thursday afternoon. Her body was discovered in a wooded area near Lake Herrick, across from a major dormitory and dining hall complex, sparking a homicide investigation.

University of Georgia Police Chief Jeff Clark emphasized the absence of a continuing threat to the campus community. Clark praised the combination of community tips, physical evidence and surveillance footage for enabling the swift arrest. Despite the arrest, Clark urged students to remain vigilant and travel in groups.

This event marks the second student death on the University of Georgia campus within 24 hours, following another unrelated incident.

Both the University of Georgia and Augusta University College of Nursing canceled classes on Friday in response to the incidents, as the community is mourning the loss and grappling with concerns over campus safety and the broader implications of immigration enforcement.

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