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UGA murder victim was apparently sexually assaulted

Laken Hope Riley

By Joe Johnson

The student who was murdered last week on the University of Georgia campus apparently had been sexually assaulted by her killer.

Although authorities were awaiting autopsy findings to confirm, law enforcement sources tell Classic City News there was visible evidence that 22- year-old Laken Hope Riley had been sexually assaulted during the deadly assault last Thursday morning on a running trail at UGA's Lake Harrick.

In addition to the victim having physical injuries from being fatally bludgeoned, sources said, her clothes had been partially removed.

Official confirmation concerning the nature of the assault was pending the results of an autopsy that was performed at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation State Crime Lab.

"Testing will determine that after the sexual assault kit is analyzed by the lab," Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson said.

Charged with Riley's murder is Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan immigrant who lived near where police say the attack occurred,

There was no evidence that the suspect and victim knew each other, according to police, who called the fatal assault a "crime of opportunity.

Evidence that led investigators to Ibarra as a suspect included footage from campus surveillance cameras,

He was charged with malice and felony murder, false imprisonment, kidnapping, concealing the death of another, and interfering with a 911 emergency call.

Riley, originally from Woodstock, had been an undergrad at UGA until the spring of 2023, at which time she enrolled with Augusta University's nursing program, which has classes in Athens.

She was an avid runner who regularly used the trails on the UGA campus.

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Gov. Brian Kemp questions Athens DA on her ability to prosecute accused killer of Laken Riley on ABH.

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Considering this was a UGA student, I’m sure the DA will get all the resources she needs to prosecute the case. That’s not always the case with lower profile crimes in this county.

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