A Valdosta State University freshman’s parents are distraught after finding out about her death on Facebook.
According to CBS Atlanta, Jasmine Benjamin, 17, was found dead last Sunday, November 18 in her dorm’s common study room area. Valdosta Police did not suspect foul play at first, but the case has since turned into a homicide investigation because of suspicions that her body was moved.
Benjamin’s mother, Judith, and her stepfather, James, told the local station that university officials never notified them about their daughter’s death. Instead, they learned about it from a friend’s Facebook post.
“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,” James said.
He said police told him her death went unnoticed for 12 hours because her fellow students thought she was just sleeping on the study room couch.
“That’s the most disturbing part of it. Aren’t there RAs?” he said. “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?”
The university said the standard procedure in the case of a student’s death is to notify law enforcement in the hometown of the student’s parents or next of kin. The university’s police department reportedly contacted both the Gwinnett County Sherrif’s Department and the Lawrenceville Police Department.
A Gwinnet County sheriff’s deputy officer notified Benjamin’s parents about her death later that Sunday.
According to the Valdosta Daily Times, police are waiting on a medical examiner’s report before ruling the death as a murder.
“We’re reluctant,” Valdosta Police Department Commander Brian Childress said. “We’re not saying absolute homicide.”
“We have not identified anybody at this point that we are ready to arrest,” he added.
Police are looking for clues in surveillance video from parts of the dorm building.