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Jasmine Benjamin Murdered, Facebook Notifies Parents Before Cops Do

parents learn daughter was murdered on facebook.jpg

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?”

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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?

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8 Responses to “Jasmine Benjamin Murdered, Facebook Notifies Parents Before Cops Do”

  1. Tayla Holman

    It's understandable for the family to want to place blame, but I don't think it should fall on the RA. 12 hours isn't usually enough to make them worry, especially around holidays or exams, and especially depending on the size of the dorms. They aren't babysitters, they're students, too, often with multiple extracurricular activities. It's a tragedy, to be sure, but to blame the RA isn't particularly fair.

  2. Emily Lovejoy

    Yeah… As an RA I have my own life to attend to and I only worry if several days go by without seeing a resident. It's not my responsibility to keep that close tabs. I feel terrible for the family, but blame the administration for not telling them not the RAs.

  3. Abby Bonnice

    Wow. That's so sad. I agree-its not the RA's fault. They aren't wardens, they are assistants. It's in the title. I know the parents are hurt and angry and confused, especially since she was there for 12 hours, and it seems unfathomable that no one would notice. It seems, from the statement, that they are more searching for an explanation as to why no one noticed than blaming the RA's

  4. Nyree Izz-r

    I totally agree with the above statements. I was a RA my last two years of college and you can't keep tabs on 35+ ppl all at once. And just like what was said, RAs are there to help build community, enforce school policies and assist students. We aren't detectives. If a situation arises of course we reported them but then it was for the most part taken out of our hands (in cases such as rape, drugs, etc) I feel for the family and that's a terrible situation. It seems there is some missing information and the finger definitely needs to be pointed elsewhere. Whoever confirmed her death it should have been the next priority to notify immediate family. Smh this seems like an unfortunate instance of changes about to be made at the university NOW that something horrible has happened.

  5. Richie Richmond

    RA's aren't to blame. But what is funny is how quickly a gumshoe RA will find the party or drugs in the dorm, yet all of the RA's posting on here don't want the responsibility of looking out for a student on a daily basis. Where did your "own life" and disregard go for the "35+ 'ppl'" on the party nights? Awfully concerned about everyone's actions then, aren't we?

  6. Beads McKenna

    I don't know what an RA is (I assume it's a US term) but it sounds like this girl was lying in a public study area not a private bedroom. Surely someone should have tried to wake her. And it should never have been posted on Facebook – shows a complete lack of respect and decency. No death should be announced until family and friends have been advised.

  7. Janeile C.

    As an RA you are absolutely a babysitter. Sad but true. If you know your residents even vaguely, then seeing the same person lying on a couch for upwards of 12 hours should raise some curiosity. And this girl was only 17. My RA knew us all and especially those underage. I'm not saying anyone is to blame yet, but talking about being too busy to do your job is a cop-out.