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A suspect has been arrested after a woman was found dead near a lake on UGA's campus

A sign for the University of Georgia is seen, May 28, 2004, in Athens, Ga. A woman was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, on the campus of the University of Georgia after a friend told police she had not returned from a morning run, the university said.
Allen Sullivan
/
AP
A sign for the University of Georgia is seen, May 28, 2004, in Athens, Ga. A woman was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, on the campus of the University of Georgia after a friend told police she had not returned from a morning run, the university said.

Updated February 26, 2024 at 1:08 AM ET

The woman who was found dead near a lake on the University of Georgia campus Thursday has been identified.

Laken Riley was a junior at Augusta University. She attended the university's College of Nursing in Athens and was a dean's list student, the school said Friday.

"This sudden loss of one of our students is truly heartbreaking," it said. "Please keep Laken's family, friends and fellow nursing students in your thoughts and prayers."

José Antonio Ibarra, 26, was arrested Friday in connection with Riley's death. He has been charged with two counts of felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another, according to Athens-Clarke County jail records.

No motive has been named yet, and there is no evidence that Ibarra, who is not a U.S. citizen nor a UGA student, knew Riley, UGA Police Chief Jeff Clark said.

"I think this was a crime of opportunity where he saw an individual and bad things happened," he said.

Authorities were able to arrest Ibarra using community input, campus video footage and physical evidence. A search warrant of his Athens apartment was also conducted, Clark said.

Police said they received a call Thursday at 12:07 p.m. from someone who was concerned about their friend who had gone on a run near Intramural Fields, Jeff Clark said.

Police began a search immediately and found an unconscious person with "visible injuries" behind Lake Herrick at 12:38 p.m. Police began administering medical aid, and when emergency medical personnel arrived, Riley was pronounced dead on the scene. Her cause of death is blunt force trauma, Clark said.

UGA canceled evening classes Thursday and canceled all its Friday classes. Classes will resume Monday.

A day before Riley was found at the lake, a UGA student was found dead in the Brumby Hall dormitory on Wednesday, the university said, though it did not provide additional details.

"The past 24 hours have been a traumatic time for our University," UGA said. "Our student body is grieving the sudden death of one [of] our students in Brumby Hall last night. And as we continue to mourn that tragic loss of life, today's devastating news will uniquely test the resolve of our campus community, particularly our students."

Clark said the two deaths are not connected.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: February 25, 2024 at 11:00 PM CST
This story has been updated since its original publication.
Ayana Archie