Nursing student found dead after jogging on University of Georgia campus, identified

Rebekah Riess, CNN | 2/23/2024, 10:46 a.m.
The body of a woman found dead Thursday on the University of Georgia campus has been identified as 22-year-old Laken …
Police are investigating the scene at the University of Georgia in Athens where a nursing student was found dead. Mandatory Credit: CNN via CNN Newsource

The body of a woman found dead Thursday on the University of Georgia campus has been identified as 22-year-old Laken Hope Riley, the Athens-Clarke County coroner told CNN on Friday.

Riley was an Augusta University College of Nursing student at its campus in Athens, the city that also is home to the University of Georgia, officials at the Augusta university said. She was a junior on the dean’s list, Augusta University said.

Coroner Sonny Wilson said Riley’s cause and manner of death are pending an examination of the body, which is set to take place Friday.

Authorities received a call around noon on Thursday from a person who was concerned after their friend went jogging at the university’s intramural fields and never returned, University of Georgia Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark said Thursday evening.

Investigators found the jogger’s body around 12:38 p.m. in an area behind a nearby lake, Clark said.

Police said they suspect foul play was involved. But no suspect information or possible motive has been released.

When he was asked whether there was any danger to the public following the death, the police chief said: “When you have a suspect that’s on the loose, there’s always a danger. But there’s no immediate danger at this time.”

Before her enrollment at Augusta University, Riley was a student at UGA.

“The victim was an undergraduate student at the University of Georgia until the spring of 2023, and then she became a nursing student at the Augusta University nursing program in Athens,” UGA spokesperson Cole Sosebee said.

All classes on the University of Georgia’s Athens campus are canceled Friday and will resume Monday, the school said.

Augusta University has canceled Friday classes at the College of Nursing campus in Athens, which is about 2.5 miles from the University of Georgia’s intramural fields.

Augusta University’s president issued a statement Thursday, mourning the loss of the student.

“It is with deepest sorrow that I share with you the news that one of our students at our College of Nursing campus at Athens has passed away,” Augusta University President Brooks A. Keel said in a letter to his school’s community.

Authorities ask anyone with information about Riley’s death to contact the UGA Police Department at 706-542-2200.

Riley’s body was discovered hours after the “sudden death” of a UGA student the night before, campus officials said.

That student was found dead in Brumby Hall, and police found “no indications of any criminal actions or foul play,” according to UGA police records. The incident was listed as a death investigation/suicide.

“The past 24 hours have been a traumatic time for our university,” the school said Thursday. “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.”