Nursing Student Laken Hope Riley Found Dead

A nursing student from Georgia named Laken Hope Riley, age 22, was found dead in a forested area near Lake Herrick around 12:38 pm on Thursday. She was a promising student who always remained active in her church and had previously made the Dean’s list. She was first reported missing by her roommate around noon after she went on a run and did not come back after a long time. She had failed to return from a run around the Intramural Fields on what is typically known as “East Campus.”

She was then found to be “not breathing” and with “visible injuries.” Emergency medical responders determined she died before officers found her.

“Evidence at the scene indicated foul play,” Athens-Clarke County Coroner Sonny Wilson told The Post Friday morning. The cause and manner of death have not yet been released.

One suspect in Riley’s murder has been taken into custody by the University of Georgia Police Department.

Riley graduated in 2020 from River Ridge High School in Woodstock, a suburb northwest of Atlanta.

Riley had transferred to the nursing program at Augusta University from the nearby University of Georgia after the spring 2023 semester, UGA spokesperson Greg Trevor told the Red & Black.

“She was still active in her sorority [Alpha Chi Omega at UGA]. She was active in the community and well known and from all accounts very well-liked,” Trevor said.

Police previously said that they do not believe anyone in the area is in immediate danger.

Murder is relatively rare in Athens, with the city averaging six per year, about half Georgia’s statewide average. But Athens-Clarke crime statistics show other types of crime with rates above the statewide average, including aggravated assault, burglary, rape, and motor vehicle theft.

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

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