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​UGA campus murder victim Laken Riley’s alleged killer ‘panicked during attack’ after illegal Venezuelan migrant was ‘overwhelmed by her size,’ says criminal profiler

A criminal profiler says the killer of the slain UGA nursing student likely “panicked” after being “overwhelmed by her size” during his attack.

Jose Ibarra, 26, is accused of killing 22-year-old Laken Riley after kidnapping her Thursday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Ibarra, an undocumented Venezuelan migrant, is accused of “severely disfiguring Riley’s body by disfiguring her skull,” and is also accused of stopping Riley from calling 911 when he allegedly grabbed her.

After her cause of death was confirmed as blunt force trauma, aprofiler from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said the killer likely became violent after Riley fought back.

In this case, the perpetrator encountered resistance he did not expect, and it became overwhelming, beyond his control, and he resumed the violence,” said John Lang Jr., a former GBI investigator and criminal profiler.

Jose Ibarra, 26, is accused of using a mysterious object as a weapon to kill 22-year-old Augusta University student

After confirming her cause of death was blunt force trauma, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation profiler has said the killer likely became violent after Riley (pictured here) fought back.

After confirming her cause of death was blunt force trauma, a Georgia Bureau of Investigation profiler has said the killer likely became violent after Riley (pictured here) fought back.

Police say Ibarra dragged Riley's body to a secluded area on the UGA campus to conceal the death

Police say Ibarra dragged Riley’s body to a secluded area on the UGA campus to conceal the death

“But he didn’t know what was coming and I suspect she probably fought back,” Lang said.

“He’s not a very big guy and he may be overwhelmed by her size and her strengths and tenacity to fight back.”

According to court documents, Ibarra is 6 feet tall and 185 pounds.

Riley’s body was found the same day on campus in a wooded area near Lake Herrick, with trails popular with runners and walkers.

The student was jogging on the University of Georgia campus when she was allegedly attacked by Ibarra.

Arrest documents accuse Ibarra of kidnapping Riley between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m., eventually dragging her body to a remote area after the attack.

“Hiding her body, that’s just an opportunity to distance herself from the crime,” Lang said.

Ibarra lived in an apartment complex near the trail, so legal experts suggested he simply walk from his property onto the trail.

“That’s where that man lives,” said Lang. “Anyone could probably predict that’s where he approached her.”

Lang explained that when a woman is attacked by a man, investigators cannot rule out whether the motive was sexual – claiming that only Ibarra can answer what the true motive was.

Ibarra was arrested Friday for Riley's murder, just a day after her remains were found on the Athens campus

Ibarra was arrested Friday for Riley’s murder, just a day after her remains were found on the Athens campus

Riley attended the University of Georgia until spring 2023 before transferring to Augusta University's College of Nursing

Riley attended the University of Georgia until spring 2023 before transferring to Augusta University’s College of Nursing

“When you look at this as a whole, this looks like a disorganized offender. That’s what we call them,” Lang said. “He just does it on a whim, regardless of the motivating factors.”

Ibarra appeared in court on Saturday, where he was formally charged with murder, aggravated assault, aggravated assault, kidnapping and other charges. He was represented by public defenders and remained in custody.

The 26-year-old crossed the border into El Paso, Texas, in September 2022, but was released from a detention center due to lack of space. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Sunday that he had previously been arrested in New York.

Although ICE has confirmed that Ibarra entered the country illegally in 2022, he cannot be deported because the Venezuelan regime has stopped accepting deportation flights in retaliation for the Biden administration reinstating sanctions on the socialist nation.

Riley attended the University of Georgia until the spring of 2023 before transferring to Augusta University’s College of Nursing, according to a statement from the University of Georgia, which does not have a nursing program of its own. She remained active in the sorority she joined at the University of Georgia.

Murdered nursing student Laken Riley suffered a deformed skull after being beaten to death by Ibarra, an undocumented Venezuelan immigrant

Murdered nursing student Laken Riley suffered a deformed skull after being beaten to death by Ibarra, an undocumented Venezuelan immigrant

Ibarra lived in an apartment complex near the trail, so legal experts suggested he simply walk from his property onto the trail

Ibarra lived in an apartment complex near the trail, so legal experts suggested he simply walk from his property onto the trail

Riley’s sister, Lauren Phillips, paid tribute to her in an Instagram post Friday, calling her “the best sister and my built-in best friend from the very first second.”

“This isn’t fair and I will never understand it, but I know you are in heaven now with the man you loved most,” Phillips wrote.

“I’m not sure how I’m going to do this, but from now on it will all be yours.” I can’t wait to give you the biggest hug ever. I will miss you and love you forever Laken.”

UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark told reporters at a news conference Thursday that officers searched Ibarra’s apartment in Athens and evidence shows he acted alone.