The family of slain Laken Riley has broken their silence after the University of Georgia nursing student was killed while fleeing.
Laken Riley, 22, was found dead in a wooded area near Herrick Lake Thursday afternoon. Illegal Venezuelan immigrant José Antonio Ibarra was charged with her murder on Friday and is being held in the Clarke County Jail.
“We want to thank the public for their prayers and thoughts during this tragic time,” the devastated family said in a statement to FoxNewsDigital.
‘Laken was an amazing daughter, sister, friend and overall person. Her love for the Lord was exemplified in every aspect of her life.
Riley’s mother, Allyson Phillips, shared photos and a video of Riley during the Augusta University nursing program’s white coat ceremony on Facebook in August 2023.
UGA murder victim was killed by ‘blunt trauma,’ police investigating her death said
Allyson Phillips, Riley’s mother, has posted several photos and videos over the years of the entire family.
‘We will miss her every day, but we promise to honor her life in a big way.
They added: “During this very difficult time, we ask that you respect our privacy and give us the time and space to grieve our daughter’s life that was tragically cut short.”
Riley was reported missing after her roommate in question told police that she had not returned from a run.
She was killed by “blunt trauma,” police confirmed.
“The individual was unconscious and not breathing and had visible injuries,” UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark said in a statement.
Ibarra, 26, crossed into El Paso, Texas, in September 2022, but was released from a detention center due to lack of space, NewsNation reported.
Now Republicans, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, have called for Ibarra to receive the death penalty.
‘Ibarra is an illegal alien and he murdered a young woman the age of my own children. Deportation is not enough. He deserves the death penalty,” said the Georgia representative in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
José Antonio Ibarra, 26, has been identified and charged with the alleged murder of nursing student Laken Riley, 22, at the University of Georgia in Athens.
He has been charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another person.
Police search a wooded area at the University of Georgia after Thursday’s shocking discovery.
Officials confirmed that Ibarra is not a U.S. citizen and did not know or have any relationship with Riley.
Riley, 22, was found dead Thursday afternoon after her roommate reported her missing, saying she had not returned from her run.
‘You want to break into our country, ILLEGALLY, and murder one of our girls. DEATH PENALTY!’ He added he in another.
Ibarra has been charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, concealing the death of another person and failure to appear for a fingerprint charge.
Police said they did not know the victim and that the crime was a “random and solitary act.”
UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark told reporters at a news conference Thursday that officers searched Ibarra’s Athens apartment and evidence shows he acted alone.
‘He didn’t know her at all. I think this is a crime of opportunity where he saw an individual and bad things happened,” Clark said.
‘The evidence is solid. It is supported by key community input, physical evidence and expert police work. It is important to note that we have video images from the security camera network on our campus.’
Republicans, including Marjorie Taylor Greene, have called for Ibarra to receive the death penalty, stating that “deportation is not enough.”
Riley was a senior nursing student enrolled at Augusta University School of Nursing in Athens and grew up in Woodstock, Georgia.
Before earning his bachelor’s degree from UGA in 2023, he graduated from River Ridge High School in 2020.
Riley was a member of her high school’s track and cross country teams and was described as “an outstanding academic athlete” by Cherokee County School District Superintendent Brian Hightower.
She was also a member of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority.