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Brother of UGA murder suspect charged with green card fraud

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An undocumented Venezuelan man living in Athens, Georgia — who is the brother of a suspect accused of killing on the University of Georgia campus —— was charged Friday night with possessing a fraudulent green card, according to officials.

Diego Ibarra, 29, was charged by a federal criminal complaint and is being held in state custody, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Georgia said in a press release. Ibarra could face as many as ten years in prison if convicted.

The federal arrest affidavit for Diego Ibarra shows after he made an asylum claim in El Paso, he was allowed to travel to New York. But in September 2023, Athens-Clarke County Police charged him with drunken driving and driving without a license. A month later, police arrested him again, this time for shoplifting. And in December, he allegedly skipped court and racked up another charge.

Ibarra is the brother of Jose Ibarra, 26, of Venezuela, who is facing state charges for malice murder, felony murder, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, false imprisonment, kidnapping, hindering a 911 call and concealing the death of another in connection with the death of Laken Hope Riley, a 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student who police found dead Thursday on the University of Georgia campus.

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Diego Ibarra, an illegal immigrant from Venezuela, allegedly handed over a fake green card to police on the hunt for his brother Jose, who they accuse of killing Georgia nursing student Laken Riley. (Clarke County Sheriffs Office)

Homeland Security Investigations learned of Diego Ibarra’s undocumented presence in the U.S. on Friday when an Athens-Clarke County Police Department officer approached him earlier in the day because he matched the description of his brother as authorities were investigating the UGA murder, according to the criminal complaint and sworn affidavit.

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Laken Riley smiles for a photo while running

Laken Hope Riley was found dead on UGA’s campus on Thursday, February 22, 2024. (Laken Riley/Instagram)

Diego Ibarra showed the officer a U.S. permanent resident card, otherwise known as a green card, as identification. The card was determined to be fraudulent, and Diego Ibarra was processed for expedited removal, but he claimed a credible fear of returning to his home country of Venezuela. So border authorities let him into the country.

Since entering the country, Diego Ibarra has been arrested three times by Athens law enforcement. In late September, he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without a license. About a month later, he was arrested for shoplifting, and in December he was arrested for failure to appear for a fingerprintable offense.

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Jose Antonio Ibarra Mugshot

Jose Ibarra, who was originally taken into custody on Friday by the UGA Police Department in connection with Riley’s death, is now not believed to have had a connection to the victim. (Clarke County Sheriff’s Office)

Melissa Hodges, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Georgia, said she can confirm Diego Ibarra is undocumented but cannot say the same for his brother.

“I can confirm Jose Ibarra is from Venezuela only. Diego is undocumented from Venezuela,” Hodges told Fox News Digital. “I do not have the details on Jose Ibarra.”

Jose Ibarra, who was originally taken into custody on Friday by the UGA Police Department in connection with Riley’s death, is now not believed to have had a connection to the victim.

UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA POLICE QUESTIONING ‘PERSON OF INTEREST’ IN LAKEN RILEY HOMICIDE

Laken Riley smiles wearing a brown top

Laken Hope Riley, a 22-year-old Augusta University nursing student who police found dead Thursday on the University of Georgia campus. (Laken Riley/Facebook)

UGA Police Chief Jeffrey L. Clark said during a news briefing Friday evening that the attack was a “crime of opportunity,” adding that Riley was not a student at UGA. Riley had previously attended UGA before entering a nursing program at Augusta’s Athens campus.

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Classes and events at both universities were canceled on Friday.

Clark said Jose Ibarra’s immigration status was not immediately known to investigators.

“Right now I don’t know his full status,” he said. “He is not a citizen of the United States.”

Police found Riley near UGA’s Intramural Fields and Lake Herrick with “visible injuries” at around 12:38 p.m. Thursday after they received a call from a concerned friend who said she had gone for a run and did not return.

GEORGIA NURSING STUDENT FOUND DEAD ON UGA CAMPUS IDENTIFIED AS LAKEN RILEY

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Laken Riley in a medical coat in a grassy field

Laken Riley poses for a photo posted to Facebook. Riley was found dead near a lake on UGA’s campus on Thursday, February 22, 2024. (Allyson Phillips/Facebook)

Riley had visible injuries and police could not locate a pulse, but they began CPR anyway. A sergeant arrived with a defibrillator minutes later and unsuccessfully attempted to revive the victim.

“Based on the injuries and Riley’s physical condition, I suspected that foul play was involved,” the police report reads.

Clark said it appeared as though she had been killed by blunt-force trauma.

Autopsy results remained pending Friday, but authorities said they were investigating her death as a homicide. Clark said it appeared as though she had been killed by blunt-force trauma.

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Fox News’ Audrey Conklin and Sarah Rumpf-Whitten contributed to this report.

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Florida teen arrested for allegedly pointing laser at sheriff's helicopter: 'He's blinding our pilot'

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A 13-year-old Florida boy is charged with a felony after allegedly pointing a laser at a sheriff’s department helicopter.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office said the helicopter was in the sky around 12:30 a.m. Thursday in the area of 7th Street Northwest and 11th Avenue in Largo, when a green laser lighting device was pointed at the aircraft.

Deputies in the helicopter maintained a visual of the suspect and directed deputies on the ground to the suspect’s location.

“Get up and get somebody on this gentleman. He’s blinding our pilot,” a deputy in the helicopter is heard saying in video released by the sheriff’s office.

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A 13-year-old Florida boy is charged with a felony for pointing a laser at a sheriff’s office helicopter. (Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office)

Body camera video then shows deputies on the ground locating the young teen, who reportedly admitted to illuminating the helicopter with a laser lighting device. Deputies found a flare gun with a mounted green laser in his jacket.

Deputies said the teenager told them he intentionally aimed the laser at the helicopter because he was bored.

When he was in the back of a squad car, the boy was heard telling deputies, “I didn’t know it was a police helicopter.”

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A Florida teen is facing charges for shining a laser at a sheriff's office helicopter

The teenager told deputies he intentionally aimed the laser at the helicopter because he was bored. (Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office)

The boy was arrested and charged with felony misuse of a laser lighting device. He was taken to the Pinellas County Juvenile Assessment Center.

According to Florida statute, it is a third-degree felony for any person to knowingly and willfully shine, point or focus the beam of a laser lighting device on an individual operating a motor vehicle, vessel or aircraft.

The incident remains under investigation.

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Man who set himself on fire near NYC courthouse holding Trump trial pronounced dead

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The man who set himself on fire outside the New York City courthouse where former President Trump’s hush money trial was being held has been pronounced dead, according to officials.

Maxwell Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Florida, died Friday night from his severe burns after lighting himself on fire earlier in the day inside Collect Pond Park near the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse.

Azzarello was pronounced dead by hospital staff at about 10:30 p.m., a spokesperson for the New York City Police Department confirmed to Fox News Digital.

At around 1:30 p.m., Azzarello looked through his backpack and threw numerous pamphlets in the air, before he poured accelerant on his body and ignited a lighter in front of witnesses. The pamphlets, which included a link to a Substack page, were “propaganda-based” and promoted far-reaching conspiracy theories such as that “some of our educational institutions are a front for the mob,” officials said.

FLORIDA MAN SET HIMSELF ON FIRE NEAR NYC COURTHOUSE HOLDING TRUMP TRIAL

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Maxwell Azzarello, 37, was pronounced dead at about 10:30 p.m. Friday. (St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office)

After he was engulfed in flames, Azzarello took a few steps and fell onto a police barrier and to the ground. Court officers, police officers and other witnesses attempted to extinguish the flames with coats and other items. The fire was eventually extinguished by responding police.

Azzarello was transported to a burn center in critical condition. Four officers also suffered minor injuries from exposure to the fire.

The self-described investigative researcher arrived in New York City earlier in the week and began protesting in front of the courthouse, criticizing both Republican and Democrat politicians. His family was unaware he had traveled to the city.

A police official said Friday afternoon that it “appears he did post something about this event online prior to the incident.”

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“This extreme act of protest is to draw attention to an urgent and important discovery: We are victims of a totalitarian con, and our own government (along with many of their allies) is about to hit us with an apocalyptic fascist world coup,” Azzarello wrote in a manifesto on the Substack page.

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Azzarello's mugshot

Maxwell Azzarello, 37, of St. Augustine, Florida, died Friday night from his severe burns after lighting himself on fire earlier in the day. (St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office)

The park was open to the public at the time of the incident and Azzarello did not breach any security protocols, police said.

Azzarello had three prior arrests across several days in Florida in August of last year, including for disturbing the peace and damage to property.

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His behavior leading to the arrests allegedly included tossing a glass of wine at former President Bill Clinton’s autograph on a wall protected by a frame inside the lobby of a hotel and, just two days later, stripping down to his boxers and yelling at customers at the same hotel.

After his third arrest, Florida police said Azzarello was suicidal.

Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.

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'Milkman Homicide' of Florida WWII veteran solved by killer's ex-wife

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More than five decades after a decorated World War II veteran-turned-milkman was murdered “execution-style” on his route, testimony from his killer’s ex-wife solved the cold case.

Hiram “Ross” Grayam had been shot multiple times when investigators searching the area via airplane spotted his milk truck deep in the woods in Vero Beach, Florida, in April 1968, the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office wrote in a Thursday news release. 

The Purple Heart recipient had witnessed the liberation of two concentration camps and survived the Battle of the Bulge before he was shot dead, CBS reported.

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Hiram “Ross” Grayam, who settled in Florida’s Vero Beach with his family and became a milkman after serving in Europe during World War II, was shot multiple times “execution-style” while on the job on April 11, 1968. (Indian River County Sheriff’s Office)

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Grayam’s murder went unsolved until this year, when the ex-wife and a friend of Thomas J. Williams’ sister told Florida authorities he’d confessed to Grayam’s killing before his own death in 2016.

“These folks said, ‘I would have never said anything to you before, as long as he was alive, he was a threat to me and my family, we would have never told you,’ but the fact that he is now dead gave them the courage to come forward,” Indian River County Sheriff Eric Flowers said at a press conference this week. 

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Thomas J. Williams

Thomas J. Williams confessed to his wife and his sister’s friend that he had killed Grayam, according to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office. (Indian River County Sheriff’s Office)

“Two independent witnesses, who both say this guy confessed to killing the milkman to them, independent of each other, (they) don’t know each other,” Flowers said.

In 2006, rumors that Williams was responsible for the locally infamous cold case circulated — he wrote in a letter to the editor to an area news outlet “saying that he had been accused of the murder, but he denied having knowledge of it, that he wasn’t involved in it,” the sheriff said at the press conference. 

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The department is still looking for a second man they believe was involved. 

Soon after Grayam’s disappearance on April 11, 1968, a witness told deputies that she saw the milkman talking to two men walking alongside the road before they all left together in the Borden Milk Company truck.

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“She said that Mr. Grayam engaged them in conversation, and announced that he would be back shortly,” Flowers said. 

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Grayam’s son, Larry, who was 16 when his father was killed, recalled his shock. 

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“A deputy came to the door and told my mom that dad had not returned in his Borden Milk Company truck to the yard in Fort Harrison and had talked to her. Then he wanted to talk to the kids – I was the oldest one there,” Grayam’s son told Fox News Digital on Friday.  

“We went outside in the yard, he wanted to know if there were good relations between my mother and my father – they wanted to try to see if my father just took off somewhere,” he said. 

“At 16 years old I called him an idiot,” the younger Grayam recalled. “I said ‘Do you think if he was going to run away, he would do it in a yellow and black and white truck instead of his own truck?”

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Hiram Grayam's son speaks about cold case murder investigation

Larry Grayam, 72, speaks during a press conference regarding the 1968 murder of his father, Hiram “Ross” Grayam, at the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office in Vero Beach, Florida, on April 11. (KAILA JONES /TCPALM / USA TODAY NETWORK)

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“They knew he carried cash – most people paid the milk man in cash then, they knew he’d have it,” Grayam’s son said of the killers’ potential motives. “Initially, their thoughts were an armed robbery… It was [also] about a week after Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed – racial tensions were the highest that I’ve ever seen.”

Now, detectives are asking residents of Gifford, the town where Grayam was last seen by witnesses, to come forward if they know anything about the second man or Grayam’s final movements.  

“The Cold Case Unit continues to pursue every new lead,” the sheriff’s office wrote in their statement. “Armed with the latest technology and new partnerships, they stand as beacons of hope for families like the Grayams, ensuring that no victim is forgotten, and no crime is unpunished.”

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“I’m hopeful, but it’s doubtful unless somebody comes forward that he has confessed to, if we open up an additional line of evidence,” Grayam’s son said of finding the second culprit. “Witness’s memories change, a whole host of things could happen.”



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