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Vigil happening Monday for slain nursing student Laken Riley

Students at the University of Georgia are hosting a vigil at 3 p.m. Monday at Tate Plaza for slain nursing student Laken Riley.

“The vigil is open to the campus community,” The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

Riley, 22, was attacked while she was running near UGA’s intramural fields Thursday, Feb. 22, according to the UGA Police Department. Authorities said Riley’s body was found after one of her friends called 911 to report that she hadn’t come home from a jog.

During a press conference the following day, UGA Police Chief Jeff Clark announced that 26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra of Venezuela had been identified as a suspect in the crime. Clark said that campus security cameras helped investigators identify Ibarra as Riley’s killer.

“He did not know her at all. I think this was a crime of opportunity,” Clark told reporters.

According to authorities, Ibarra moved to Athens from Venezuela. Clark confirmed that he is not a U.S. citizen and does not know when Ibarra arrived in Athens. Police have since charged Ibarra with murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call, and concealing the death of another.

Plans for a vigil and funeral for Riley were announced over the weekend.

According to Poole Funeral Home in Woodstock, visitation is scheduled at Woodstock City Church from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, March 1.

Following the visitation, funeral services will begin at 2 p.m. with pastor Samer Massad officiating.

“Her obituary said that a love for nursing and helping others drove Riley to attend UGA and later the Augusta University nursing program in Athens, where she transferred and made the fall 2023 dean’s list,” The AJC’s David Aaro and Rodney Ho write.

Riley’s loved ones add, “Laken’s adoration for caring went beyond her goal of becoming a nurse but allowed her to be an extraordinary nanny for two young children. Her smile was extremely infectious and infected others everywhere she went.”

An online GoFundMe page was created to assist Riley’s family, Aaro and Ho report, “which has requested donations instead of flowers.

“To honor her, all proceeds will go towards starting the Laken Hope Riley foundation, which will be used to bring homicide awareness and safety for women.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution contributed to this story




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