Campbellsville University student died from strangulation and suspect was teammate on wrestling team, police say

The Kentucky student who was found unresponsive on campus this weekend died of strangulation, police said Monday, and the suspect arrested in his death was a fellow member of the Campbellsville University wrestling team.

Campbellsville University student Josiah Kilman, 18, died from asphyxia by manual strangulation, the Campbellsville Police Department said Monday.

The suspect in custody in connection with the student’s death, Charles Escalera, 21, is a member of the wrestling team at Campbellsville, where Kilman was his teammate, according to Suzanne Grubesic, a spokesperson at Campbellsville University.

On Saturday, Kilman was found unresponsive in his room on campus, and was later declared dead at Taylor Regional Hospital. The school went into lockdown but lifted it after Escalera was arrested later that evening.

Charles E. Escalera - Taylor County Detention Center
Charles E. Escalera - Taylor County Detention Center

Escalera was arrested on suspicion of murder “by causing the death of Josiah Kilman by asphyxia via manual strangulation and/or aided, abetted, or conspired with another to commit said acts against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth,” according to a criminal complaint.

Police said the suspect’s motive is unknown and the investigation remains ongoing.

Escalera is being represented by a public attorney and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 6, Campbellsville County Attorney John Bertram told CNN Monday. Escalera was scheduled for an arraignment Monday, according to court records. CNN has reached out to the Taylor County Attorney’s Office for Escalera’s legal representation.

CNN has reached out to Kilman’s family.

In a Sunday news release, Campbellsville University President Joseph Hopkins described Kilman as “a beloved member of our community.”

“He was a bright light, and a person of incredible hope,” he said of Kilman, who was from Montana.

Michelle Watson and Maria Sole Campinoti contributed to this report. 

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