Person of interest being questioned after woman who went for run on University of Georgia campus found dead: School

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A person of interest has been identified after a woman who went for a run on the University of Georgia’s Athens campus was found dead due to “foul play” on Thursday, school officials said.

The person of interest is being questioned, a school spokesperson said Friday.

The victim has been identified as 22-year-old Laken Hope Riley, the University of Georgia and the Athens-Clarke County coroner confirmed to ABC News.

A friend reported Riley missing shortly after noon when she failed to return home from a run at the school’s intramural fields earlier that morning, the university said.

University police officers subsequently found her in a wooded area behind a lake near the fields “unconscious and not breathing” with “visible injuries,” the university said. Officers attempted to provide medical aid but she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her cause and manner of death have not been disclosed.

The University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia, is seen on Feb. 22, 2024.

WSB

Riley was a junior at the Augusta University College of Nursing who studied at its Athens campus, the school said. She had previously attended the University of Georgia.

“This sudden loss of one of our students is truly heartbreaking,” the Augusta University College of Nursing said in a statement on Friday.

She graduated from River Ridge High School in Woodstock, Georgia, in 2020, where she ran on the school’s cross-country team for four years.

“Her passion for health care science and running are to be admired,” River Ridge High School cross-country coach Keith Hooper said in a statement to ABC News. “She will always accompany us as we run.”

Classes have been canceled at the nursing school on Friday, with counselors available to staff and students.

University of Georgia Police Department Chief Jeffrey Clark had told reporters there was no suspect in custody during a press briefing Thursday evening.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Athens-Clarke County Police Department are assisting in an investigation into the death, the university said.

“We have been fully briefed on this terrible situation,” the university said in a statement. “We want to assure you that the safety and welfare of our campus community is our top concern.”

The incident follows the “sudden death” of a student in the campus’ Brumby Hall Wednesday night, the school said. A cause of death has not been released.

Clark said there is no connection between the two deaths.

Classes have been canceled Friday and will resume on Monday, the school said, calling the past 24 hours a “traumatic time” for the university.

University officials recommended that students travel in groups when possible and download the school’s safety app.

PHOTO: A sign for the University of Georgia is seen, May 28, 2004, in Athens, Ga. A woman was found dead Feb. 22, 2024, on the campus of the University of Georgia after a friend told police she had not returned from a morning run, the university said.

A sign for the University of Georgia is seen, May 28, 2004, in Athens, Ga. A woman was found dead Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, on the campus of the University of Georgia after a friend told police she had not returned from a morning run, the university said.

Allen Sullivan/AP, FILE

Clark urged the school community to avoid the general area where the victim was found amid the ongoing investigation.

“We’re not gonna leave any rock unturned on this investigation,” Clark said. “We will follow all leads.”

There is no immediate danger to the public at this time, he said.

There has not been a homicide on the campus in the past 20 years, according to Clark.

ABC News’ Alyssa Gregory, Jason Volack and Nick Uff contributed to this report.

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