New details of suspect are revealed in slain University of Georgia jogger case

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Federal officials revealed new details on Sunday regarding the suspect charged with the death of an Augusta University College of Nursing student on the University of Georgia campus in Athens. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (‘ICE’) confirmed that the suspect, Jose Antonio Ibarra, 26, of Athens, is a Venezuelan migrant and not a United States citizen. Ibarra was charged in the murder of Augusta University junior Laken Hope Riley, 22, who was found dead on Thursday near a lake on UGA’s campus after jogging nearby.

Athens-Clarke County jail records show that Ibarra is charged with felony murder, false imprisonment, kidnapping and concealing the death of another, and was denied bond Saturday morning. Authorities say there is no evidence Ibarra previously knew the victim and was not a student at UGA  According to the US Attorney’s Office for the Middle District of Georgia, the suspect’s brother, Diego Ibarra, 29, is in custody on federal charges of possessing a fraudulent green card and faces up to a decade in prison. Both brothers are undocumented.

According to a statement from Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Ibarra was arrested by US Customs and Border Protection on Sept. 8, 2022 after entering the United States illegally near El Paso. ICE noted that “he [Ibarra] was paroled and released for further processing.” New York City police also arrested Ibarra last September and charged “with acting in a manner to injure a child less than 17 and a motor vehicle license violation,” according to ICE, with the agency adding that NYPD released him “before a detainer could be issued.”

Ibarra’s immigration status became a hot topic amongst politicians who are fighting to tighten border security. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp requested confirmation on Saturday of the suspect’s immigration status as well as any information available regarding the asylum claims and release of the suspect’s brother, posting on X: “Laken Riley’s tragic death struck the hearts of Georgians everywhere and has sparked national outrage. Joe Biden’s failed policies have turned every state into a border state, and I’m demanding information from him so we can protect our people when the federal government won’t!  While media reports surrounding this case have relied on sources and leaks from your own federal agencies, the answers to these basic questions must be provided publicly as soon as possible.”

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