Female body found on U. of Georgia campus; Foul play is suspected

A woman’s body was found Thursday in a wooded area on the University of Georgia campus in Athens, according to university officials, who said foul play is suspected in her death.

In a statement to The Times, the university said the victim was an undergraduate student at the school until the spring of 2023 and then enrolled in the nursing program at Augusta University, which has a campus in Athens.

Shortly after noon, a friend reported the woman missing to campus police after she failed to return from jogging near the university’s intramural fields, the University of Georgia Police Department said.

At 12:38 p.m., officers found a woman’s body in a patch of woods near a lake. The woman, whose name and age have not been released, “was unconscious and not breathing” and had “visible injuries,” police said. The ambulance arrived and pronounced her dead.

Police have no suspects, University Police Chief Jeffrey Clark said at a news conference Thursday night.

“When you have a suspect on the loose, there’s always danger,” the chief said. “But there is no immediate danger at this time.”

Chief Clark declined to comment on the nature of the death.

He said he could not recall any murders on campus in the past 20 years.

Investigators were reviewing footage from campus security cameras, the chief added. He urged anyone with information about the case to contact the university police department at (706) 542-2200.

University police said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Athens-Clarke County Police Department are assisting in the investigation.

Kelly Girtz, mayor of Athens-Clarke County, said he joined the community “deeply saddened by today’s murder,” adding that the city is working with university police to bring the investigation to a “quick conclusion.”

The university said the school’s president, Jere Morehead, met with members of the victim’s sorority to express his condolences.

The school canceled the rest of classes on Thursday and all classes on Friday. Officials encouraged students and staff members to take precautions on campus and recommended that people “travel in groups whenever possible and be aware of your surroundings,” according to the announcement. Augusta University also said it canceled classes Friday at the school of nursing’s Athens campus.

“I don’t feel safe anywhere,” said Anika Bhattacharya, a sophomore at the University of Georgia. television station 11Aliveadding that she recently thought about going jogging in the area.

“I’m not even thinking about walking alone after all of this — at least for the next few months,” she said, adding, “I don’t want to take any chances at all.”

According to The Red & Black, the campus newspaper, students in intramural fields said their classes were canceled in the middle of the class period Thursday afternoon. The newspaper said that the officers checked the IDs of the people in the fields before they left the area.

The body was found in a wooded area near Lake Herrick, part of a larger recreation area that includes playgrounds, tennis courts and trails for walking, running and biking. The lake and intramural fields adjoin the Oconee Forest Park.

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