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Wrestling teammate charged in murder of Kentucky college student

Charles Escalera, 21, is facing murder and burglary charges in the death of wrestling athlete Josiah Kilman, 18, at Campbellsville University in Kentucky. Kilman was found unresponsive in his dorm room early Saturday morning and died of asphyxia via manual strangulation, according to the medical examiner. Photo courtesy of Taylor County Detention Center
1 of 2 | Charles Escalera, 21, is facing murder and burglary charges in the death of wrestling athlete Josiah Kilman, 18, at Campbellsville University in Kentucky. Kilman was found unresponsive in his dorm room early Saturday morning and died of asphyxia via manual strangulation, according to the medical examiner. Photo courtesy of Taylor County Detention Center

Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A former wrestling teammate has been arrested in the death of Kentucky college student Josiah Kilman, who was found dead in his Campbellsville University dorm room over the weekend, according to police.

Charles Escalera, 21, was arrested Saturday evening in connection with the 18-year-old's death, which, the Kentucky State Medical Examiner's Office announced Monday, was caused by asphyxia via manual strangulation.

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"A motive for the crime is still undetermined at this time, however the case is ongoing," according to Campbellsville police.

Kilman, who was attending the school as a freshman from Montana, was discovered unresponsive early Saturday morning. He was transported to Taylor Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, according to a statement by the university.

"Campbellsville University is grieving the loss of one of our family. We have lost a student and our hearts are broken," said Campbellsville University President Joseph Hopkins.

Kilman was a member of the wrestling team at the private Christian university, which is located about 84 miles southeast of Louisville and about 83 miles southwest of Lexington.

His family released a statement, calling him "an avid athlete and faithful religious leader." They said he was attending the school on a biblical scholarship.

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Escalera was a former member of the team who last competed during the 2021-22 school year. He is being held in the Taylor County Detention Center and is currently facing murder and burglary charges.

Kilman's death is the third reported murder of a college student in the past month.

Last week, Laken Riley, 22, was found dead after going for a run on the University of Georgia's Athens campus. Jose Antonio Ibarra, who did not attend the school, is charged with malice and felony murder, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing a death.

Earlier this month, a student and a visitor were found shot to death inside a dorm room at the University of Colorado's Colorado Springs campus. Samuel Knopp and Celie Rain Montgomery were found dead on Feb. 16, according to Colorado Springs police. Knopp's roommate, Nicholas Jordan, 25, was arrested and is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

On Monday, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear called for the re-establishment of the "feeling of security and safety" that we "ought to be able to wake up with every day."

"I can't imagine as a parent sending your child to college only to learn that you lost them," Beshear told reporters. "It is tragic when we lose any of our young people, especially to violence."

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