ICE Confirms Georgia Student Murder Suspect Entered US Illegally

( – Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials confirmed on Sunday that the suspect arrested in connection to the brutal murder of nursing student Laken Riley in Athens, Georgia had illegally entered the United States from Venezuela nearly 18 months ago, CBS News reported.

26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra was initially apprehended by Border Patrol on September 8, 2022, after he illegally crossed the US border near El Paso, Texas, and was paroled and released pending further processing, ICE said in a statement.

Ibarra was arrested in Athens, Georgia last Friday and charged with multiple counts, including felony murder, malice murder, kidnapping, and aggravated battery, in the slaying of Laken Riley.

According to ICE, Ibarra was also arrested in New York City on September 14, 2023, and charged with “acting in a manner to injure a child” under 17 and for a motor vehicle license violation but was released by the NYPD before ICE could issue a detainer.

Riley, a 22-year-old nursing student at Augusta University, went out for a run on the morning of February 22. When she didn’t return, a friend contacted the police who later found her body in a wooded area near the Athens campus of the University of Georgia.

According to University of Georgia Police Chief Jeffrey Clarke, Riley died of blunt force trauma.

Clarke said Ibarra had no connection to Riley and suggested that the murder was a “crime of opportunity.”

Following Ibarra’s arrest in Athens, the US Justice Department announced that it had charged his brother Diego Ibarra with possession of a fraudulent green card.

Federal authorities became aware that Diego Ibarra was in the country illegally during the course of the investigation into Riley’s death.

According to Homeland Security officials, an Athens police officer approached Diego Ibarra because he matched the suspect’s description. When the officer asked for identification, Ibarra presented a fake green card.

Jose Ibarra was arraigned on Saturday and denied bond.

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