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Man describes finding slain woman's abandoned golf clubs after talking to her

Champion golfer found dead at Iowa golf course
Champion golfer found dead at Iowa golf course 01:42

Golfer Harley Thornton's account of his interaction with a woman who was later found dead at an Iowa golf course could offer important insight into the woman's killing. Celia Barquin Arozamena, 22, was found dead Monday morning at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, police said. Officers determined she had been assaulted.

Thornton told CBS Des Moines affilaite KCCI-TV that he and three of his friends met an experienced golfer in her 20s while they were golfing Monday.

"This very nice young lady came up with her push cart and we all agreed that she should go in front of us," Thornton said. "We knew she would be a lot faster than a bunch of old men."

Thornton said that when they arrived at the ninth hole, the woman was nowhere in sight. Her golf clubs and cellphone were abandoned.

He said he also found what he thinks was her golf hat, and that several tees were scattered.

"This was very strange and not right," he told KCCI-TV. "There is no reason to abandon your clubs in the middle of the fairway."

Thornton said he called 911 after calling the clubhouse.

"Timing is very important on something like this, so we were just trying to help," said Thornton.

Officers found Barquin's body some distance from the bag, with several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday.

"It's still very troubling for something like this to happen in broad daylight in a community that is as safe as Ames is," Ames police Cmdr. Geoff Huff said at a news conference Tuesday.

A police dog tracked Barquin's scent to a homeless encampment along a creek near the golf course, where 22-year-old Collin Daniel Richards had been living in a tent, the criminal complaint said. Officers found Richards with several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting, and a deep laceration in his left hand that he tried to conceal, it said.

Richards was charged with first-degree murder. He was ordered jailed Tuesday on a $5 million, cash-only bond.

The university said Barquin, a top amateur golfer from Spain, was finishing her civil engineering degree this semester after exhausting her eligibility at Iowa State in 2017-2018. She was one of the most accomplished players in Cyclone golf history. In April, she became the second women's golfer at Iowa State to earn medalist honors at a conference tournament when claiming the 2018 Big 12 Championship. She did it with a three-shot victory.

Barquin, who was ranked No. 69 nationally by Golfweek, ended her career as a Cyclone with a fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance and earned All-Big 12 Team honors for the third time — the second player in Iowa State's history to do so.

She was the third Cyclone women's golfer to compete in the U.S. Women's Open Championship, the university said.

Police give update on investigation into golfer's killing 02:39
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