[Fox News] Georgia nursing student found dead on UGA campus identified as Laken Riley

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The Augusta University nursing student found dead on the University of Georgia’s campus Thursday has been identified as 22-year-old Laken Riley.

“In the press conference given by UGA PD last night, it was stated that the victim was ‘not a UGA student.’ While this is technically correct, it doesn’t address the truth — she was a Dawg. It’s widely understood at UGA that she was a full-time student here for the past three years, and then for her 4th year enrolled in nursing school at Augusta University’s campus in Athens,” UGA Associate Director and Lecturer Cali Brutz. “It’s a typical track for nursing students here at UGA. The victim has stayed active and engaged with both the UGA community and her sorority.”

Brutz said she did not personally know Riley, but she “was, and is, a part of UGA.”

Georgia criminal defense attorney Philip Holloway said he would not be “surprised” if Riley’s death was a “criminal homicide.”

UGA police found the female student, who has not been publicly identified, deceased with “visible injuries” in a forested area behind Lake Herrick around 12:30 p.m. Thursday after a friend called authorities to report that the student left for a run Thursday morning and never returned.

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“I think it’s going to be a short period of time before they find a suspect,” Holloway told Fox News Digital. “It wouldn’t surprise me if this is a criminal homicide.”

The student’s death remains under investigation as of Friday morning, a UGA spokesperson told Fox News Digital. Classes at UGA and Augusta University College of Nursing campus at Athens were canceled on Friday.

Holloway, founder of the Holloway Law Group, said authorities will likely set up a “geofence,” or virtual fence, around the crime scene to determine who came in and out of the Lake Herrick area by looking into cellphone tower data. It should be noted that AT&T experienced a nationwide outage Thursday morning and afternoon, impacting customers across the southeast.

The criminal defense attorney described Athens as a “typical college town.”

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The last time UGA reported a homicide on campus was 20 years ago, UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark said during a Thursday evening press conference. The police chief said that there was not “immediate danger” on campus.

“Sources in the area are considering the possibility that this may be related to cases in the past,” Holloway said, including any cases of assaults against assaults against women in the area of UGA’s intramural fields.

Lake Herrick is part of UGA’s campus, nestled between various university practice fields and Oconee Forest Park. The lake is bordered by a pedestrian trail and has a recreational beach. Authorities are asking the public to avoid the area as they investigate.

A University of Augusta spokesperson confirmed to Fox News Digital that the student’s death occurred on UGA’s campus. 

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“It is with deepest sorrow that I share with you the news that one of our students at our College of Nursing campus at Athens has passed away,” Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel said in a statement. “Police have said they suspect foul play. The receipt of this news this afternoon was shocking to all of us.”

In a press release, UGA said “foul play is suspected.” No suspects have been identified as of Friday.

WATCH:

Athens-Clarke County Mayor Kelly Girtz said in a Thursday evening statement sharing his condolences and calling the death a “murder.”

“I join everyone here at the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government in deep sadness over today’s murder in our city,” Girtz said. “We promise to do everything possible to collaborate with UGA PD to bring this investigation to a rapid conclusion, and will continue to work overtime to prevent further tragedies.”

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and the Athens Clarke-County Police Department are assisting UGA police in their investigation. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact 706-542-2200.

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