Jasmine Benjamin, Valdosta State freshman, was murdered, police say

Jasmine Benjamin
Jasmine Benjamin

(CBS/AP) ATLANTA - The family of Valdosta State University freshman Jasmine Benjamin, who was found dead on campus and whose death was recently declared a homicide, say they found out about her passing on Facebook, CBS affiliate WGCL reports.

Authorities initially did not declare foul play after  Benjamin, a 17-year-old from Lawrenceville, Ga., was found dead around noon on Sunday, Nov. 18  in a study room of her dormitory.

Maj. Brian Childress, an investigator with campus police, told several news outlets that the preliminary results of an autopsy led authorities to declare her death a homicide.

Benjamin's parents, mother Judith Brogdon and stepfather James Jackson, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that they were initially told 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."

The university said the standard procedure is to contact the law enforcement agency in the hometown of the student's parents or next of kin. A Gwinnett County sheriff's deputy notified Benjamin's parents of her death on Sunday afternoon, hours after her body was found.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are working the case.

Maj. Childress told the Journal-Constitution that authorities have interviewed students, but said the Thanksgiving holiday break slowed the probe since so many students left Valdosta.

Benjamin's parents, meanwhile, are urging her fellow students to assist in the investigation. "Someone knows something," Jackson, her stepfather, said.