Student nurse’s murder leaves Joe Biden with blood on his hands, claim GOP after migrant is arrested

Laken Riley
Laken Riley, a committed Christian, would have been an 'incredible nurse', friends said - FACEBOOK

When 22-year-old nursing student Laken Riley failed to return home from her usual run near University of Georgia, her concerned flatmate called the campus police.

Just over 30 minutes later, her lifeless body was found in a wooded area just off the running trail. She had been brutally bludgeoned to death.

When a Venezuelan migrant who had illegally crossed the US border was charged with Ms Riley’s murder, her death was instantly transformed from a family tragedy to a political lightning rod.

The murder - the first homicide on the university’s campus in 30 years - was immediately seized upon by Donald Trump and his GOP allies, who have sought to pin the devout Christian’s murder on Joe Biden.

Senator Joni Ernst holds a poster with photos of Sarah Root, killed by an illegal immigrant who was drink-driving, and Laken Riley
Senator Joni Ernst holds a poster with photos of Sarah Root, killed by an illegal immigrant who was drink-driving, and Laken Riley as Republicans stepped up efforts to link Ms Riley's death to Joe Biden's border policies - SHUTTERSTOCK

“Crooked Joe Biden’s Border invasion is destroying our country and killing our citizens,” Mr Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform days after Jose Antonio Ibarra’s arrest.

Ms Riley’s murder “should have never happened”, he said, describing her killer as a “monster” who “illegally entered our country”.

Mr Trump dedicated a significant portion of his remarks at the US-Mexico border on Thursday to Ms Riley, who he described as a “beautiful young woman”.

Doubling down on his previous comments, he described the man charged with her murder as “an illegal alien migrant who was let into our country and released into our communities by crooked Joe Biden.”

Mr Trump added that his political rival “will never say Laken Riley’s name”, before adding: “but we will say it and we will remember, we’re not going to forget her.”

His allies quickly fell in line. Mike Collins, a Georgia congressman, said Mr Biden had blood on his hands. And Brian Kemp, the state governor, shared a letter addressed to Mr Biden “demanding information” related to Mr Ibarra’s immigration status.

“Laken Riley’s tragic death struck the hearts of Georgians everywhere and has sparked national outrage,” Mr Kemp said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

“Joe Biden’s failed policies have turned every state into a border state, and I’m demanding information from him so we can protect our people when the federal government won’t!”

A life of laughter and kindness

Deborah Gonzalez, Athens-Clarke County’s district attorney and a Democrat, tried to push back on the rhetoric, saying she would “not allow this or any other case to be used for political gain”.

The bitter, political fallout sparked by Ms Riley’s death could not be further from how she lived her life - thoughtfully, and filled with laughter and kindness.

A lover of dancing, running and singing, Ms Riley had recently enrolled as a nursing student at Augusta University, which has a campus in Athens, Clarke County, around 70 miles from Atlanta.

“She showed incredible wisdom throughout her friendships. Many sisters have shared that she was the best listener,” Chloe Mullis, Ms Riley’s sorority’s president, said at her vigil.

Ms Mullis described Ms Riley as a “devoted Christian, sister, student, daughter and friend,” who “no doubt” would have been an incredible nurse.

But Ms Riley’s life was cut short on February 22. She was jogging around Lake Harrick, a quiet loop popular for running and walking, when she was attacked.

Her disfigured body had been dragged into a secluded area, and medical examiners said she died from blunt force trauma.

Jose Ibarra faces charges of murdering and kidnapping Laken Riley
Jose Ibarra faces charges of murdering and kidnapping Laken Riley - CLARKE COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE VIA AP

Ibarra, 26, was arrested last Friday and charged with felony murder, false imprisonment and kidnapping and concealing a death.

In September 2022, he was arrested after entering the US illegally near El Paso, Texas, and was “paroled and released for further processing,” according to a statement from ICE.

His release was part of a practice, since abandoned, that the administration used when officials were overwhelmed with high numbers of crossings.

Mr Ibarra is understood to have spent some time in New York City, where he was arrested and released after driving a scooter without a licence and with a child who was not wearing a helmet.

In October 2023, he and his brother were caught shoplifting over $200 worth of clothes and food in Athens, according to a police report.

Suspect lived a mile from death scene

At the time of Ms Riley’s death, he was living in a block of flats about one mile from the wooded trail where her body was found, according to police.

Given Ms Riley’s suspected murderer is a migrant, it is “not surprising” her death has been seized upon by the GOP, according to Wendy Brown, a political science professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

Ms Brown, who has studied the border, said Mr Trump and the GOP’s response to the murder was “totally predictable”.

She told The Telegraph: “Obviously, the GOP will seize on anything an undocumented person does that’s in violation of the law …  and turn it into a symbol for catastrophic border crisis and immigration crisis and it’s not surprising.”

She added it was “particularly telling” this has “blown up in Georgia which is a swing state and swung to Biden and 2020. And the Republicans are desperate to get it back by any means possible”.