Benjamin investigation continuesNov 29th, 2012 | By Amanda Usher, Eric Jackson
| Category: 2012-11-29, Campus Crime, Campus News, Fall 2012, News, Top Headlines
The investigation continues into the death of Jasmine Benjamin as authorities attempt to determine whether her death is a homicide.
The 17-year-old nursing major was found dead in Georgia Hall Nov. 18 in the fifth floor study room.
“The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the VPD are still following up and interviewing people individually and collecting evidence to be sent off to be analyzed at the crime
laboratory,” said Cmdr. Brian Childress, Valdosta Police Department Bureau of Investigative Services.
According to him, there are no suspects at the moment.
Benjamin’s family has taken matters into their own hands after finding out about the death of their daughter via Facebook and not from VSU officials.
According to Thressea Boyd, director of communications, VSU contacted the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office, in accordance with University protocol.
Gwinnett authorities then went to Benjamin’s house to notify her family; however, they weren’t home so the authorities left a note telling her parents to contact them.
Authorities then made a second visit making contact with parents.
Childress stated that the investigation was set back due to the Thanksgiving holiday.
Judith Brogdon, Benjamin’s mother, and James Jackson, Benjamin’s step-father, haven’t been shy about voicing their frustration with VSU during this process.
“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,” Jackson told CBS.
The family has now called upon private investigator firm Martinelli Investigation, Inc. in Lawrenceville, Ga., to assist with the case.
Attorney Tom Stubbs is representing the Benjamin family.
“It’s not unusual to ever hire a private investigator and attorney going through this situation,” Robin Martinelli, private investigator, said. “The police are doing a phenomenally great job, all of them. They’re working around the clock to solve this situation, and I know that for a fact.”
Her friends’ experience was more personal.
“Actually, I was texting her all Saturday [Nov. 17], and she wasn’t responding,” Jazmin Young, freshman art education major, said. “I just thought maybe she was with the guy she was ‘talking to’ ‘cause last time she didn’t respond to texts, she was with him.”
Young said that after she sent a good morning text to Benjamin the next morning, someone knocked on her door and told her that a “guy” had died on the fifth floor.
They then saw the police knocking on Benjamin’s door.
“We were like ‘oh snap- we haven’t talked to Jasmine in like 24 hours,” Young said. “I tried to put two and two together but because my neighbor had told me it was a guy, I thought it was the guy Jasmine was ‘talking to.’”
Young said that a male friend came to her room and broke the news to her that Benjamin had passed away.
“It was hard to believe because we had just been with her the day before, well, the day before the day before,” Young said. “Once we could actually think, our first question was what she was doing on the fifth floor.”
According to Kimberlen Kelley, freshman computer science major, Benjamin was part of a group of friends who rarely went anywhere alone.
“We all have a system where we text or call everyone to tell them [that] we are safe in our rooms,” Kelley said. “If someone does not respond, we may go to their rooms or ask around if they have seen them.”
According to Bill Watson, Lowndes County coroner, Benjamin had been dead for 12-15 hours before she was recognized as deceased.
“I don’t think it was that long,” Dr. Tom Hardy, director of Housing, said. “That’s an incredibly long time. It really is. Yeah, I think that would [be] suspicious myself.”
VSU counselors are available to students.
If anyone has any information on this case, they are encouraged to call VSUPD at 333-7816.