Parents say they weren't told of daughter's death at Valdosta State University
LAWRENCEVILLE, GA (CBS46) -
A Valdosta State University freshman was found dead on campus last weekend and her parents say they found out on Facebook.
Jasmine Benjamin, 17, who studied nursing and lived on campus, was found dead in her dorm's common study area around noon Nov. 18. Valdosta police believe foul play was involved and are investigating her death as a homicide for now. Her family members said they were told her body may have been moved - which is why authorities suspect foul play.
Benjamin's mother, Judith Jackson, and her stepfather James Jackson, spoke to CBS Atlanta News on Saturday from their Lawrenceville home because they want answers from the university.
The pair said they are distraught because of how they found out about Benjamin's death - through a friend's Facebook post. They said university officials never notified them of her death.
The university said the standard procedure is to contact the law enforcement agency within the hometown of the student's parents or next of kin.
The university said the Valdosta State University Police Department notified both the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department and the Lawrenceville Police Department. A Gwinnett County sheriff's deputy notified Benjamin's parents of her death on Sunday afternoon.
"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 Jackson said.
Jackson said police told him she had been dead for at least 12 hours before she was found, because passers-by thought she was simply sleeping on the study room couch.
"That's the most disturbing part of it. Aren't there RAs?" Jackson 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 released this statement on Monday:
"Valdosta State University is continuing to work with law enforcement agencies in the their ongoing investigation into the death of Jasmine Benjamin."
Meanwhile, Valdosta police said they are waiting for an autopsy to determine Benjamin's cause of death.
Police are looking at surveillance video taken from parts of the dormitory building for clues.
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