You can learn a great deal on Facebook and other social media networks. Information travels at the speed of light. Sometimes it is good information and sometimes it is bad. But one thing a parent never expects to learn about on Facebook is that their 17 year old daughter is dead.
Jasmine Benjamin was a 17 year old college student studying nursing at Valdosta State University. She was found Nov. 18 in a common study room in her dormitory, assumed to be “asleep” on the couch. Finding out that she may have been there for 12 hours before she was found, her stepfather Jackson says, “”That’s the most disturbing part of it. Aren’t there RAs? 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?”
Seeing posts on Facebook such as “RIP Jasmine” the couple were shocked that the school did not notify them and devastated over the death of their daughter. Just after that sighting on their daughter’s timeline, official word from authorities reached them. Her mother Judith Jackson, and stepfather, James Jackson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that their first information from local authorities was that their daughter died of natural causes. “To find out it was a homicide and that somebody actually murdered our daughter changed everything,” Jackson said. “It was like hearing the news all over again.”
School authorities claim that the Thanksgiving holiday and break complicated matters of notification and investigation. “It hurts, angry because you just don’t know. The questions that you have, who, what, when, and why and how? All that’s not answered and you’re trying to have a funeral,” says Jackson.
The investigation into the teen’s death is ongoing and the family has hired Martinelli Investigations Inc. of Lawrenceville. The school continues working with officials who are working through the information from phone records, comments on social media and door to door campus canvasing. Maj. Brian Childress, an investigator with campus police, said the agency has identified several individuals of interest, but not zeroed in on anyone to arrest.
Anyone with information about the teenager’s death is asked to call Valdosta State University police at 229-333-7815 or the Valdosta police crime hotline at 229-293-3091.
(Valdosta State University is not the only university to experience a situation involving the death of a student. See video)