Woman found dead on UGA campus identified as Augusta University nursing student, officials say

ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) – Authorities are investigating a woman’s death on the University of Georgia’s campus after she didn’t return from a morning run, the school announced Thursday afternoon.

The coroner’s office identified the woman as 22-year-old Laken Hope Riley. Augusta University confirmed she was a student at the College of Nursing campus in Athens.

UGA police said they received a call just after noon from a person who was concerned for their friend, who had not come back from a run at the intramural fields. About 20 minutes later, police found Riley in a forested area behind Lake Herrick with “visible injuries.” Officers tried to give emergency aid, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

MORE COVERAGE: ‘A tragic day’: Everything we know about the 2 deaths on the University of Georgia campus

The school said in a letter to students that “foul play is suspected,” adding that the “safety and welfare of our campus community is our top concern.”

All classes at UGA have been canceled until Monday. The Augusta University College of Nursing canceled classes on Friday.

“Me and my roommate, like pretty much everyone I know, we park over there. Me and my boyfriend go on runs over there all the time,” said UGA student Izzy Whitesides. “The fact that the person hasn’t been caught yet is really scary. Hence why I had somebody come walk me back to my car.”

“It’s really beautiful and peaceful, and now I feel like it’s tainted. It’s like, scary, a little bit,” UGA student Alena Wiggins said.


UGA Police Chief Jeffery Clark said the woman was not a UGA student but was a student at another school.

UGA Police Chief Jeffery Clark encouraged the public to avoid the general area where the body was found while campus police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department investigate.

Clark said a suspect has not been identified, but police are “actively investigating the case” and there is no immediate danger to the public.

“This is a tragic day,” he said. “My investigators will be working this case day and night, and they will be looking at every camera that we have.”


Police believe foul play may have been involved.

The school also mentioned a second death on the campus just hours earlier. A student died Wednesday night in Brumby Hall, UGA said in a statement, calling this a “traumatic time for our university.”

“And as we continue to mourn that tragic loss of life, today’s devastating news will uniquely test the resolve of our campus community, particularly our students,” they wrote. The university did not say how the student died, but the student’s high school alma mater said the death was by suicide.

Clark said at the Thursday press conference that the two deaths are not connected.

Police ask anyone with information about the incident to call the UGA Police Department at (706) 542-2200.

The University of Georgia offers 24/7 mental health crisis support to all students. They should call 706-542-2273 to speak with someone.

This story is developing. Check back with Atlanta News First for updates and sign up for news alerts.

First appeared on www.wtoc.com

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