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Laken Riley's former roommate says student slain on morning run rarely missed a workout, yearned to be a nurse

Slain Augusta student Laken Riley's friend and former roommate Bianca Tiller remembers her as "the kindest person" who wanted to become a nurse and help others.

EXCLUSIVE: Laken Riley, the 22-year-old Georgia nursing student found dead by police Thursday after she failed to return from her morning jog, was an avid runner who had dedicated her life to becoming a nurse and helping others, according to her friend and former roommate.

Bianca Tiller, 21, lived with Riley during their freshman year at the University of Georgia, she told Fox News Digital.

Riley rarely missed her morning exercise, Tiller said, and she tracked her routes with an Apple Watch.


After she failed to return from a morning run Thursday, another friend grew concerned and called UGA Police around noon. Within roughly 30 minutes, campus police found her near where she'd been jogging through the campus intramural fields with "visible injuries." 

They launched a homicide investigation and were questioning a person of interest 24 hours later. By Friday evening, UGA Police announced murder charges against a 26-year-old suspect, Jose Antonio Ibarra, who had no known connection to the victim and is not a U.S. citizen. 

UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark called it a "crime of opportunity." Riley was known to go for regular morning runs.

"She would go on runs every single day, even when we were freshmen," Tiller said. "Not a day would go by where she wouldn't go on her runs, and if she missed a day, which was very rare, she would just get so hard on herself about it."


Those runs often took her through the trails along Lake Herrick, where Riley's body was found, Tiller said.

The former UGA student said she had considered the area safe and that it was popular among students and local residents.

"The first thing that really shocked me was that it was in the middle of the day or the morning. It wasn't like she was running at nighttime," Tiller said. "For it to happen during the day in such a populated area, on a warm day where you would expect a lot of people to be outside, is just really shocking and didn't really make sense."

Riley had no enemies or jealous ex-boyfriends that Tiller was aware of, she said, but Tiller noted that she graduated last spring and hasn't been in Athens since then.

"She would always be there for everybody," Tiller said. "And she would just really bring everybody together and friendships together. I've met so many people through her, and she was just the kindest person. Like, nobody had anything terrible or even remotely bad to say about her."

After three years at the University of Georgia, Riley entered a nursing program at Augusta University's Athens campus, which is close to UGA.

"She's been wanting [to be a nurse] for a really long time," Tiller said. "She was studying biology when she was at UGA."

Even before they started college, Riley worked at a nursing home, and she often told stories about her experiences there, Tiller said.

"No matter how little the pay was and how difficult the work was, she just really liked helping people," Tiller said.

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