The tragic death of Jasmine Benjamin, 17, in a Georgia school’s dorm embodies the fears of every parent sending a kid off to college for the first time — and when Benjamin was killed, her shocked parents only learned of her death through a Facebook post.
Jasmine Benjamin’s death apparently slipped through the parental notification cracks despite her young age, and (in what may become an ever-more-common circumstance) in the time it took for school or law enforcement authorities to contact her mom and dad, one of her fellow students posted a condolence to Facebook, alerting her parents to the fact that she had been killed.
Benjamin’s stepfather, James, said the family is reeling after learning wife Judith’s daughter had died through Facebook postings. James says that the failure of someone to reach them before they learned in that fashion has compounded the family’s pain:
“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.”
Jasmine Benjamin’s stepfather also relays the worrisome fact that his stepdaughter lay dead for 12 hours undiscovered, and that no one had gone to follow up on her whereabouts:
“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?”
The death of Jasmine Benjamin is being treated as a homicide, but police have not yet confirmed that the Valdosta State University freshman was murdered. Valdosta Police Department Commander Brian Childress said Sunday that the police are awaiting autopsy confirmation before saying for sure that Jasmine Benjamin’s death was not accidental:
“Until we get that autopsy report in hand, we’re a little reluctant to definitively call it murder … But could that change before we get the report? Absolutely. We’re waiting on the M.E.’s report to have a cause of death, but if our ongoing investigation clearly identifies it as a homicide, we’ll be willing to say that sooner.”
In response to the outcry after Benjamin’s parents learned their daughter had died on Facebook, Valdosta State University released the following statement:
“Valdosta State University is continuing to work with law enforcement agencies in the their ongoing investigation into the death of Jasmine Benjamin.”
Should someone be held to account for failing to properly notify Jasmine Benjamin’s parents of her death?