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Georgia Student Murder Highlights Female Joggers’ Fears

An Augusta University nursing student was reported missing by a friend after she failed to return for a morning run. Her body was found in a forested area on the University of Georgia's campus near Lake Herrick, an area with popular trails used by runners and walkers. On Friday, authorities took 26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra into custody, charging him with felony murder, Scripps News reports. The death of 22-year-old Laken Hope Riley highlights the ongoing violence against female runners. "At this time, the investigation suggests that they had no relationship. He did not know her at all. I think this was a crime of opportunity, where he saw an individual, and bad things happened," said University of Georgia Police Chief Jeff Clark. Authorities say Ibarra is from Venezuela and is not a U.S. citizen.


News of Ibarra's arrest prompted criticism of the Biden administration's immigration policies and handling of the migrant crisis at the southern border. In a letter to President Biden, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp condemned the president's handling of the crisis, writing, "While the dangers of this crisis have never been theoretical, this week our state witnessed a devastating tragedy." Riley's death is the latest incident in which a woman has been killed while out running. In 2018, 20-year-old college student Mollie Tibbetts was murdered while jogging near her home in Iowa. Ashling Murphy, 23, a teacher in Ireland, was murdered while on a run in January 2022. The men responsible for their deaths were sentenced to life in prison. A study released by Adidas in March 2023 surveyed 9,000 runners across nine countries to understand men and women's experiences and perceptions of safety when running. The survey found that "92% of women reported feeling concerned for their safety, with half afraid of being physically attacked."

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A daily report co-sponsored by Arizona State University, Criminal Justice Journalists, and the National Criminal Justice Association

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