Valdosta Daily Times

November 20, 2012

GBI probes student’s death

Agent: Foul play not ruled out

Quinten Plummer
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — Authorities haven't ruled out foul play in the death of a Valdosta State University freshman who was found unresponsive on a couch in a study room inside the university's Georgia Hall dormitory at around 12:30 p.m. Sunday, according to officials from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

On Monday morning, VSU President Bill McKinney addressed the VSU community through a press release.

“It is with great sadness that I must inform you of the death of Jasmine Cathleen Benjamin, 17, a first-year student from Lawrenceville, Ga.,” said McKinney. “On behalf of the entire VSU family, we extend our deepest sympathy to Jasmine’s family and friends.”

The VSU police have asked the GBI to investigate Benjamin's passing, according to Special Agent Steven Turner. Though it was initially reported that foul play was not suspected, Turner said no scenarios have been ruled out at this point.

“We're exploring all avenues of death,” said Turner. “So yes, there is still the possibility of foul play. Right now, we're waiting on the results of the toxicology tests.”

Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson confirmed that Benjamin's body was examined at a GBI facility in Macon on Monday morning, and he said her body was being returned to her family in Lawrenceville. Completion of the autopsy is pending the toxicology results, which Watson said could take days or weeks to finalize.

Several students reported seeing Benjamin in the study room at around midnight. Roughly 12 hours later, Benjamin was still in the fifth-floor study room and students were unable to revive her through CPR.

VSU counselors are available for students who need assistance, and may be reached at 229-333-5940.

Anyone having any additional information on this case is encouraged to call the GBI at 229-225-4090.