Jasmine Benjamin, the 17-year-old freshman at Valdosta State University, was found dead in a study room in her dorm on Sunday, November 18. Despite the odd circumstances surrounding her death—she was apparently found on a couch after being dead for hours–law enforcement authorities were initially slow to label Benjamin’s death a homicide. Now, however, police believe the promising teen was murdered.
News that Benjamin was murdered was another blow to her parents who initially heard about their daughter’s death on Facebook before local law enforcement had the chance to notify them.
“To find out it was a homicide and that somebody actually murdered our daughter changed everything,” James Jackson, Jasmine’s stepfather, said. “It was like hearing the news all over again.”
University officials are asking the public to help them solve the crime, and both the FBI and GBI have joined the investigation. But Jasmine’s parents have been kept in the dark about the details surrounding their daughter’s death.
The grieving parents were still in the dark Saturday about the manner of death, nearly a week after Jasmine was found dead. “They haven’t given us any information – at all,” Jackson said. “We’re getting a lot of the news from media reports.”
The family said it’s also “frustrating” they have heard little from Valdosta State officials. They talked to a dean Monday only when they called to make arrangements to retrieve their daughter’s belongings. They talked to the school’s president briefly the following day, Jackson said.
Benjamin’s parents have hired a lawyer and their own private investigator to find out what happened to their daughter, and are using social media—ironically the same method used to inform them about her death—to find her killer.
Robin Martinelli, the family’s private investigator, said: “We have started an investigation where we are finding anything on social media, and that’s where we need your help. Where any of her friends and family on social media that might want to come forward on any of the accounts meaning Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.”