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A mother and father from Lawrenceville, Georgia, were disgusted to first hear about the death of their 17-year-old daughter from a friend’s post on Facebook.
Freshman nursing student Jasmine Benjamin was found dead in shared dorm student area on November 18. But staff at Valdosta State University didn’t notify the parents of her death. Furthermore, the girl’s mother, Judith Jackson, and her stepfather, James Jackson, still haven’t got many more answers about how Jasmine died.
There were no signs of trauma on Benjamin’s body when it was found in a common study area at around noon. Authorities initially believed that the aspiring nurse had died of natural causes. Then the police changed their mind. Based on information from the autopsy report, the case is now being investigated as a homicide.
Authorities said that Benjamin may have been deceased for up to 15 hours by the time her body was discovered. Her relatives have been told that Benjamin’s body may have been moved, which is why the police suspect foul play. ‘That’s the most disturbing part of it. Aren’t there RAs?’ James Jackson told CBS Atlanta. ‘What kind of school is this that they don’t know someone’s laying on the couch – to go check on them after a certain amount of hours?’
Valdosta State University said the standard procedure is to contact police in the hometown of the student’s parents or next of kin. The Jacksons were notified by Gwinnett County sheriff’s department later on the afternoon of November 18. But they already knew.
James Jackson said: ‘For someone to be so insensitive not to reach out to the family, or not even to keep up with what’s going on because it’s a holiday and you’re going away on vacation or whatever you’re doing – it’s very, very hurtful to say the least. ‘To find out it was a homicide and that somebody actually murdered our daughter changed everything,’ Jackson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. ‘It was like hearing the news all over again.’
Ten days after Benjamin’s body was found, there are still very few clues as to how she died. The police are waiting for a toxicology test report, due back some time in the next weeks, before they make an official announcement on the cause of death. And now that students have returned from the Thanksgiving break, authorities have been able to pick up the intensity of their investigations.
Commander Brian Childress of the Valdosta Police Department told the AJC that he had received a crucial piece of information about the case on Sunday but wouldn’t go into further detail. Childress added: ‘The university has taken some action to tighten up security, but we do not believe at this point that there is some killer running loose at Valdosta. We have a couple of theories about what happened, and we’re trying to tighten it down and talk to additional folks.’