In a deeply moving tribute on Instagram, Lauren Phillips honors her late sister, Laken Riley, whose life was tragically cut short on the University of Georgia’s campus. Laken, a 22-year-old nursing student at Augusta University, became the subject of a devastating news story when she was found dead following a morning jog near UGA’s intramural fields. The incident, which occurred around noon on Thursday, led to the arrest of 26-year-old Jose Antonio Ibarra on murder charges, with investigators citing blunt force trauma as the cause of death.

Lauren’s Instagram post reflects a profound sense of loss and love, describing Laken as not only the best sister but also a built-in best friend “from the very first second.” Her words convey a mixture of grief, incomprehension, and a vow to live in a way that honors Laken’s memory. Accompanying the heartfelt message were photographs of the sisters at different stages of their lives, from childhood to young adulthood, underscoring the depth of their bond and the magnitude of Lauren’s loss.

Laken, originally from Woodstock, was remembered for her dedication to her studies and her involvement in activities that highlighted her vibrant spirit and commitment to helping others. Before transferring to Augusta University, Laken was a student at UGA and a graduate of River Ridge High School, where she excelled as a scholar and athlete.

The response to Lauren’s post marks the first public comments made by a member of Laken’s immediate family since her untimely death. It provides a personal insight into the impact Laken had on those closest to her and the void her passing has created. As the community reels from this tragic event, the Phillips family’s words serve as a poignant reminder of the personal stories behind the headlines and the enduring love that remains in the wake of unimaginable loss.

Laken’s death, described by UGA Police Chief Jeffrey Clark as an “isolated incident” and a “crime of opportunity,” has prompted a thorough investigation, with the assurance that there is no ongoing threat to the campus community.