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Jasmine Benjamin: Shocked parents learn of college student's death on Facebook

Jasmine Benjamin, a 17-year-old nursing student at Valdosta State University in Valdosta, Ga., was found dead on a couch in the study room of her dormitory on Nov. 18. Her shocked parents learned of their daughter's death on Facebook from a condolence post by one of her friends.

CBS Atlanta reported the teen's mother, Judith Jackson, and stepfather, James Jackson, spoke to them because they have unanswered questions. Upon the death of a student, the University's standard procedure is notifying the police in the hometown of the student's parents or next of kin. Valdosta State University police notified both the Lawrenceville Police Department and the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department after the parents' Facebook revelation.

Benjamin's stepfather, James Jackson said, "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."

The parents were informed their daughter died of natural causes upon first contact by the police. Jackson said police also told him Jasmine was dead for at least 12 hours, because students who passed by thought she was asleep. The stepfather questioned why dorm resident assistants would not have checked on his daughter, because it would be unusual for someone to sleep for such a long time on a study room couch.

Campus police believe there was foul play involved and suspect the body was moved. After initial autopsy results, her death is now being investigated as a probable homicide. The family has hired a private detective who is looking for clues throughout the University, from students, and on Facebook comments. Recently, the University installed surveillance equipment, but the cameras were "on back order."

Jasmine's nickname was "Jazzy" and her favorite color was purple. Her mother was a nurse, and Jasmine wanted to enter the same profession. Her parents reported that from the time she was a little girl, all she wanted to do was help people.

On Nov. 29, Jasmine Benjamin will be laid to rest, along with her goal of serving humankind. Hopefully, someone who knows what happened will come forward and help her grieving parents get the closure they need.

Opinion:

Discovering via a Facebook page your 17-year-old daughter has died would be devastating for any parent, but then to later learn she was murdered would be beyond horrific. But we live in an age where Facebook communication is often used in lieu of phone calls, sympathy cards and letters.

Reportedly, Valdosta State University's surveillance equipment didn't have cameras installed, because they were on "back order." It's inconceivable that in 21st century America, a university wouldn't have working cameras with all the tragedies that have occurred on college campuses. A disturbing story and quite sad indeed.

References:

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57555093-504083/jasmine-benjamin-valdosta-state-freshman-was-murdered-police-say/

http://newsone.com/2089985/jasmine-benjamin-found-dead-at-valdosta-state-university/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/higher-education/family-learns-of-ga-college-students-death-on-facebook-clues-sought-through-social-media/2012/11/28/0e09f7c6-39df-11e2-9258-ac7c78d5c680_story.html