Colleges nationwide on edge after 4 campus homicides in 10 days

The University of Georgia, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and Campbellsville University have reported four separate homicides over 10 days

U.S. colleges are on edge after four people were killed in three separate on-campus incidents in Kentucky, Georgia and Colorado over just 10 days.

Most recently, Campbellsville University student Charles Escalera, 21, was charged with murder and burglary in connection with the Feb. 24 death of Josiah Kilman, 18, of Columbia Falls, Montana. Both students were on the school's wrestling team. 

"There are no words strong enough to mend the broken hearts of this family right now. We are all truly in shock at the abrupt and unexpected loss of Josiah and we are asking for an abundance of prayers for them as they grapple with this devastating tragedy," reads the description of a GoFundMe page for Kilman titled "Josiah Kilman’s Family in Need of Love and Support."

The Taylor County Coroner's Office said Kilman died of asphyxia by manual strangulation, according to preliminary autopsy results, though it remains unclear exactly how the 18-year-old was killed.


A split image of Charles Escalera's mugshot and Josiah Kilman

Campbellsville University student Charles Escalera, 21, was charged with murder and burglary in connection with the Feb. 24 death of Josiah Kilman, 18, of Columbia Falls, Montana. Both students were on the school's wrestling team. (Green County Sheriff/Facebook)

Two days before Kilman's alleged murder, an Augusta University nursing student named Laken Riley, 22, was killed on Feb. 22 while she was out for a jog along a dirt trail on the University of Georgia's campus in Athens.

UGA authorities arrested Jose Antonio Ibarra, a 26-year-old illegal immigrant from Venezuela, in connection with her murder on Feb. 23. Ibarra is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another.


A photo of the UGA crime scene below photos of Laken Riley and suspect Jose Ibarra

University of Georgia murder suspect Jose Ibarra lived within a five-minute walk of the approximate scene where he allegedly murdered 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley on Feb. 22. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital/Laken Riley/Jose Ibarra)

Riley died of blunt force trauma, UGA Police Chief Clark said during a Friday evening press conference announcing Ibarra’s arrest.

Ibarra lived in an apartment complex located within a five-minute walk of the approximate crime scene with his brother, Diego Ibarra, who has been charged with green card fraud. Diego was hired as a temporary dishwasher for one of UGA's dining halls after presenting a fake green card to the school; he has since been fired.


A general view of the area where Laken Riley’s body was found near Lake Herrick on the University of Georgia’s campus in Athens, Georgia

The area where Laken Riley’s body was found near Lake Herrick on the University of Georgia’s campus in Athens on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Jose Antonio Ibarra has been charged with the murder. (Mark Sims for Fox News Digital)

"Laken’s adoration for caring went beyond her goal of becoming a nurse and allowed her to be an extraordinary nanny for two young children. Her smile was extremely infectious and spread to others everywhere she went," Riley's obituary reads. "She was devoted to serving the Lord. She was always involved with her church, Woodstock City Church. Her love for spreading God’s word led her to attend countless mission trips. Her love for the Lord was exemplified in every aspect of her life."

"Laken was an amazing daughter, sister, friend and an overall extraordinary person."

About a week prior to Riley's murder, two people were shot to death on the University of Colorado at Colorado Spring campus on Feb. 16. UCCS student Samuel Knopp, 24, of Parker, Colorado, and Celie Rain Montgomery, 26, of Pueblo, Colorado, were found dead in a campus dorm room.

On Feb. 19, Colorado Springs police arrested Nicholas Jordan, of Detroit, Michigan, in connection with Knopp's and Montgomery's murders. 

Dispatch audio shows first responders arriving to University of Colorado shootingVideo

UCCS previously told Fox News that Jordan was enrolled at the school at the time of the shooting. He is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.


Knopp and Jordan lived in the same dormitory suite with one other man, who contacted police to report a shooting on Feb. 16. The third roommate told police that he and Knopp "had to report Nicholas Jordan for unsafe living conditions and smoking in the room," according to an affidavit. In January, Knopp and Jordan allegedly got into an argument over a trash bag.

Nicholas Jordan mugshot

Nicholas Jordan, 25, has been arrested in connection with the killing of two people inside a University of Colorado dorm. (Colorado Springs Police Department)

"Mr. Jordan threatened Knopp and told him that he would ‘kill him’ and there would be consequences if Mr. Jordan was asked to take out the trash again," the affidavit filed in El Paso County states.

Colorado prosecutors later said Jordan had an AK-47-style rifle and a handgun in his vehicle when he was apprehended on Feb. 19.


The schools reporting homicides in the last 10 days have noted measures they have taken to ensure student safety since the three separate incidents unfolded.

In a Saturday statement following Ibarra's swift arrest in connection with Riley's murder, for example, UGA President Jere Morehead said the university approved "the launch of some new initiatives related to more lighting, more cameras" on campus just last week.

Laken Riley in a medical coat in a grassy field

Laken Riley, a nursing student, poses for a photo posted to Facebook. (Allyson Phillips/Facebook)

The university said it has invested $16 million over eight years to "hire more police personnel, design and install an extensive security camera network, enhance lighting, establish a nightly rideshare program, and create a widely used UGA Safe app." Morehead will be meeting with campus police this week in an effort to get their insight on additional measures that may be taken to ensure student safety.

But parents, students and community members are demanding more answers. 

Laken Riley smiles for a photo while running

Laken Riley smiles for a photo while running. (Laken Riley/Instagram)

"Why are there no police patrolling the campus on foot, on horseback or on trolleys? Why are there not secure transportation/escorts to move students from classrooms to parking lots, especially during testing when exams are scheduled at NIGHTS?" Marlene Clark wrote in an email to Morehead with Fox News Digital CC'd. "Why are so many of the streets so dark? THIS IS A COLLEGE TOWN! Why are there so many unattended empty lots and vacant buildings on or close to campus? My daughter's parking requires her to walk past a run down garage with questionable activities."

"Those who knew Laken are suffering and scared."

Clark continued: "Those who knew Laken are suffering and scared, the parents of children who had to go back today are suffering along with them and scared. I do not trust this arrest as no motive was given. It seems like the lowest hanging fruit was selected to shut us up."

In a comment on a Facebook post UCCS shared following Knopp's and Motgomery's murders, Facebook user Matt Schwabe said school "administrators failed to protect these victims."

"Almost ignoring their repeated pleas for assistance," he wrote. "You further failed the remaining students by allowing them to assemble on campus, knowing an armed and dangerous person was still on the loose and whereabouts unknown. By the grace of God, police found the suspect hours before the assembly. When apprehended, he was found to be in possession of a fully loaded assault rifle and handgun, a couple miles from the school. Shameful."

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