Laken Riley murder: Affidavits reveal disturbing details about death of 22-year-old nursing student

WARNING: Some may find the details in this report graphic or disturbing

Arrest warrants and affidavits obtained by Channel 2 Action News reveal new details on what prosecutors say led up to the death of a 22-year-old nursing student on the University of Georgia campus.

Laken Hope Riley went for a run on Thursday morning near the UGA intramural fields and never returned. Police later found her body.

On Friday, police announced the arrest of Jose Antonio Ibarra and charged him with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another.

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The documents obtained by Channel 2 Action News on Tuesday accused Ibarra of kidnapping Riley between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. and “disfiguring her skull” with an object. The documents did not specify what kind of object.

The Athens-Clarke County coroner’s office confirmed that Riley died from blunt-force trauma to the head.

Ibarra is also accused of “physically” preventing Riley from making or completing a 911 call. The documents alleged that Ibarra dragged Riley from the intramural fields to a “secluded area” and concealed her death.


Officials confirmed on Sunday that Ibarra entered the United States illegally. Immigration and Customs Enforcement issued the following statement on Sunday.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested Ibarra Sept. 8, 2022, after he unlawfully entered the United States near El Paso, Texas. He was paroled and released for further processing.”

Court documents reveal that Ibarra was arrested in New York after driving an uninsured, unregistered car but was released.

Records show he and his brother, Diego Ibarra, were then charged in Georgia for stealing nearly $200 worth of goods from an Athens Walmart, and he had documents out for his arrest when he allegedly murdered Riley.

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