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Outrage grows after murder of Laken Riley

Fox News’ Madison Scarpino reports on the outrage over sanctuary city policies after the murder of Georgia nursing student Laken Riley on ‘Fox News Live.’

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Jacqueline Medina, mother of 16-year-old Texas girl Lizbeth Medina, who was allegedly killed by an illegal immigrant in December, is calling for change after the murder of Georgia college student Laken Riley.

Rafael Govea Romero, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, allegedly stabbed Lizbeth to death in the bathtub of the apartment she shared with her mother on Dec. 5, 2023. About three months later, on Feb. 22, Jose Antonio Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, allegedly killed Riley with a blow to the head while she was jogging along the University of Georgia campus.

“I am deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Laken Riley, and my heart goes out to her family during this difficult time,” Jacqueline Medina told Fox News Digital in a statement. “As someone who has also lost a daughter to violence at the hands of an illegal immigrant, I understand the pain and devastation that comes with such a senseless act. It is heartbreaking to see another family go through what mine has endured.”

Jacqueline said she is “moved by the fact that” Riley and Lizbeth both wanted to become nurses. She shared a certificate with Fox News Digital noting Lizbeth’s nomination for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence and said Lizbeth had dreams of studying at the University of Texas at Arlington.


A split image of Laken Riley and Lizbeth Medina

Laken Riley and Lizbeth Medina were both allegedly killed by illegal immigrants between Dec. 5, 2023, and Feb. 22 in Texas and Georgia, respectively. (Facebook)

“It is a cruel and unfair reality that their dreams were cut short by senseless violence,” she said. “I believe that there need to be stricter laws in place to protect our children and communities from individuals with violent criminal histories, regardless of their immigration status.”

“I believe that there need to be stricter laws in place.”

— Jacqueline Medina

She added that “this is not about politics” but “ensuring the safety and well-being of our loved ones.”

A a certificate noting Lizbeth Medina's nomination for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence

Jacqueline Medina shared a certificate with Fox News Digital noting Lizbeth’s nomination for the Congress of Future Medical Leaders Award of Excellence and said Lizbeth had dreams of studying at the University of Texas at Arlington. (Jacqueline Medina)

“While I acknowledge that not all illegal immigrants are the same, we must take action to prevent tragedies like these from happening again,” she said. “Since my daughter Liz’s passing in 2023, too many beautiful young girls have lost their lives to violence. We must come together as a society to create a safer world for all. Let us look after each other and strive to make our communities places where everyone can feel secure and protected.”


Liz Medina

Jacqueline Medina came home to find her daughter, Lizbeth “Liz” Medina, dead in the bathtub of their residence at the Cottonwood Apartments after she hadn’t seen or heard from the 16-year-old that afternoon. (Facebook)

Edna police arrested Romero, 23, in Schulenburg, Texas, thanks to cellphone data and other evidence tying him to Lizbeth’s murder. 

He is charged with capital murder and has been placed on an Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer after Lizbeth, a cheerleader at Edna High School, was found in the bathtub with “smeared blood on the sides of her and what appeared to be a stab wound to the upper stomach area,” according to a police affidavit previously obtained by Fox News Digital. 

Jacqueline had left their apartment in Edna early on Dec. 5 for work. Her daughter typically left for school afterward, but that day, she neither made it to school nor a Christmas parade that her cheer team was supposed to be practicing in. 

Police arresting Rafael Govea Romero,

The Edna Police Department announced the arrest of Rafael Govea Romero, an “undocumented male” whom officials believe is “the person responsible for the death of Lizbeth Medina,” in Schulenburg. (Edna Police Department)

Jacqueline went to the parade, expecting to see her daughter, but when she couldn’t find Lizbeth anywhere, she began reaching out to friends and family for help tracking down the 16-year-old. Later that evening, Jacqueline found her daughter dead in their bathtub.


The grieving mother, who lived in Nebraska before moving to Texas for work, said neither she nor her daughter knew Romero but noted that their house had been burglarized on Nov. 13, about a month before the teenager’s murder. Edna police officers believe Romero may have been involved in the burglary and may have stalked Lizbeth before allegedly attacking and killing her.

Lizbeth Medina wearing a dress and flower crown

The mother of a 16-year-old Texas girl found dead in their Edna apartment is “praying for justice” for her only child. (Jacqueline Medina)

“I believe the burglary from 11/13/2023 could have a connection with the murder suspect,” an Edna officer wrote in the affidavit. “I believed the suspect of this murder was at large and a present danger to the community. I was especially concerned that the person believed to be the murder suspect was texting other high school students, leading me to believe the suspect was targeting students.


“Furthermore, I believe the public was in danger due to the stalking-like behavior displayed by the suspect via the potential connection of the 11/13/2023 burglary and driving through the apartment complex on 12/4/2023.”

Romero’s arraignment is scheduled for Thursday. Fox News Digital reached out to his defense attorney for comment.

Pundits and social media personalities have noted similarities between Lizbeth’s and Riley’s murders.

Laken Riley smiles wearing a brown top

Laken Riley poses for a photo posted to Facebook. Riley, a nursing student at the University of Georgia, was found dead near a lake on campus on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Laken Riley/Facebook)

Riley was out for a jog along dirt paths on the University of Georgia campus, near Lake Herrick, when Ibarra, 26, allegedly attacked and killed her. 

Riley’s roommate had reported her missing when she did not return from her run on the morning of Feb. 22, and police found her deceased around noon that same day. She died of blunt-force trauma to the head. 

Jose Antonio Ibarra Mugshot

Jose Ibarra was arrested on Feb. 23 in connection with Laken Riley’s Feb. 22 murder in Athens, Georgia. (Clarke County Sheriff’s Office)


Ibarra, who lived within a five-minute walk of the approximate crime scene, is charged with malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another.

Ibarra entered the United States through the U.S.-Mexico border in 2022 and was freed on border parole. He initially lived in New York City before moving to the Georgia college town. 

Audrey Conklin is a digital reporter for Fox News Digital and FOX Business. Email tips to [email protected] or on Twitter at @audpants.

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