Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

December 1, 2012

How Facebook beat authorities in notifying family of student’s death

VALDOSTA — The roles of new media and duties of social networkers are being investigated by the public once again, as news of a Valdosta State University freshman’s death may have been reported to her parents online before authorities could notify them in person.

Roughly two hours after Jasmine Benjamin was found deceased on a study room couch in VSU’s Georgia Hall, according to reports, Gwinnett County Police Department officers attempted to notify Benjamin’s family in Lawrenceville at the request of VSU police. However, Benjamin’s mother may have received unofficial notification of her daughter’s death through a Facebook message from a family friend.

Thressea Boyd, VSU’s communications director, said the university did everything in accordance with its rule book for passing along the tragic news of Benjamin’s death.

“It is Valdosta State University’s standard procedure to contact the law-enforcement agency within the hometown of the student’s parents or next of kin,” said Boyd. “The Valdosta State Police Department notified the Gwinnett County Police Department and officers from this agency made the official notification to Jasmine’s parents on Sunday, Nov. 18.”

GCPD officers found that Benjamin’s family was not at home and were in the process of moving when they were dispatched to the contact location listed in Benjamin’s file at VSU, according to GCPD Public Information Officer Cpl. Jacob Smith. He said officers left a note on the door, while they attempted to contact the family by phone and locate an updated address.

The GCPD officers first attempted to contact Benjamin’s family at 2:08 p.m. on the day she was ruled dead, Smith said. Officers made contact with Benjamin’s mother by phone at some point between the first attempt and 4:06 p.m., the time when officers personally notified the mother of her daughter’s passing.

Smith said he could not confirm if Benjamin’s mother was aware of her daughter’s death before or after detectives spoke with her, but concedes that there was ample time between the student’s discovery and her family’s briefing.  “The mother agreed to meet one of our officers back at the residence that the family was moving out of,” said Smith. “The mother said she was aware that something was wrong, just by the nature of the phone call.”

For decades, media outlets have allotted law enforcement agencies the time needed to locate the family of a deceased person and notify the bereaved via human contact. A family friend may provide more heartfelt condolences than an unfamiliar officer.

However, with Facebook and other social media, this is the latest case where family members have learned of a death not through officials sources but via reading a Facebook post or message.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • ARociewilliams_002.jpg Woman shares nearly a century of lessons

    With nearly 100 years of life under her belt, Ocie Viola Williams has plenty of advice to share with the world. Her top two pieces of advice: know the importance of education and don’t expect a teacher to raise your child for you. 

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • psst1 photo page copy.jpg PSST! finishes peachy season

    Peach State Summer Theatre concluded its 2014 season Sunday, a season which broke attendance records for the professional musical theatre company.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • DSC_2381.jpeg Award-winning young professionals share success secrets

    The Valdosta-Lowndes Chamber’s MetroOne Young Professionals hosted a panel discussion on Tuesday at the Hilton Garden Inn to highlight successful business practices.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140726_summerlibrary002.jpg Library celebrates end of summer reading program

    With the first day of school just around the corner, students are soaking in the last few weeks of summer vacation. The end of summer also means the end of the South Georgia Regional Library’s 2014 summer reading program.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • artseason1 copy.jpg A sneak peek at some area arts organizations’ 2014-15 seasons

    Beethoven. Tennessee Williams. Non-stop art. Two versions of “The Wizard of Oz.” The 2014-15 arts season is coming.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • sabalmap.jpg Sabal Trail explains its position

    Representatives from Sabal Trail Transmission recently sat down with The Times to provide an update on the ongoing pipeline and potential economic development opportunities associated with the project.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • 072514-MoodyComp007.jpg Moody AFB crews race in load competition

    Moody Air Force Base hosted a weapons load competition Friday morning, a maintenance group tradition in which two 23d Maintenance Group A-10 munition load crews raced against the clock to load munitions onto an A-10C Thunderbolt II.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • moonshine bust.jpg Police close illegal drinking house

    After receiving numerous complaints, the Valdosta Police Department shut down an illegal alcohol sales operation Friday.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • election.jpg Black earns most votes in runoff

    State Rep. Ellis Black led the votes for state Senate District 8 Friday with seven of seven counties reporting certified results, according to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140724-LAT1.jpg Little Actors Theatre ready for summer show

    Since 2004, the Little Actors Theatre has provided a place for children ages 6 to 19 to express themselves through acting.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results