Arrest Made in Connection with Murder of VSU Student

Mugshot of Darien Meheux, Arrested in Connection with Suspicious Death of VSU Student, Jasmine Benjamin
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Georgia Bureau of Investigation Release

Ellaville, GA - On Thursday, January 10, 2013, at approximately at 11:30pm, Darien Joseph Meheux, 18 years of age, from Lawrenceville, Georgia was arrested at the Schley County Sheriff’s Office in Ellavile, Georgia.

Meheux turned himself into the sheriff’s office after being made aware of a murder warrant which had been taken for him for the death of Jasmine Benjamin.

Officers with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Valdosta State University Police Department, Valdosta Police Department and Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office conducted a search for Meheux in Gwinnett County but then Meheux surfaced in Ellaville.

Benjamin was found dead on the Valdosta State University campus in Georgia Hall on November 17, 2012.

The cause of death was asphyxiation.

Meheux’s arrest was the result of an extensive homicide investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Valdosta State University Police Department and the Valdosta Police Department.

The investigation into this matter by the GBI’s Regional Office in Thomasville continues.

Associated Press Release

VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Authorities say they have made an arrest in connection with the death of Jasmine Benjamin, a freshman at Valdosta State University who was found dead in a study room of her dorm just before Thanksgiving.

GBI Special Agent Steve Turner said Friday that 18-year-old Darien Joseph Meheux of Lawrenceville was taken into custody late Thursday night at the Schley County Sheriff's Office in Ellaville. Turner says Meheux turned himself into authorities after learning that a murder warrant had been issued.

Turner told The Associated Press that investigators believe Benjamin and Meheux were former friends, but said he could not release any information on a possible motive. It was not immediately known whether Meheux has an attorney.

Turner said Friday the cause of death was asphyxiation.

Associated Press Release

VALDOSTA, Ga. (AP) -- Authorities say a memorial fund has been established for the family of a Valdosta State University student who was found dead in a study lounge on the campus of the south Georgia school.

Private investigator Robin Martinelli says contributions to the fund are being accepted at any Wells Fargo bank branch. Martinelli is working with the family of 17-year-old Jasmine Benjamin in the search for clues about how she died.

The aspiring nursing student was found unresponsive on a couch in a common study area at Georgia Hall on Nov. 18.

Police say they're treating the case as a homicide, though autopsy results are not complete. Authorities say there were no obvious signs of a crime when her body was found, but an autopsy raised questions.

AP-WF-12-12-12 1134GMT

Valdosta, GA, December 4, 2012 - The FBI is now also investigating the death of a 17-year old Valdosta State University student.

That's according to the Valdosta Police Department which is also assisting in the investigation.

Jasmine Benjamin was found unresponsive in her dorm on November 18th. Her death has been ruled a homicide.

CMDR Brian Childress, Valdosta Police Department, stated, "the FBI has a crime lab in Quantico. And quite often we and other agencies will send evidence up to their lab to help with processing and analysis and so on. This case is no different. We've collected some evidence throughout the whole process and they're helping us in a support role in that regard."

The Valdosta Police Department also confirmed the FBI provided additional manpower to interview students.

- A memorial service was held last night for the VSU student who was found dead on campus.

17-year-old Jasmine Benjamin's service was held in Lawrenceville, Georgia.

She was found unresponsive in a study room on November 18th in her VSU dorm. Her death has been ruled a homicide according to investigators.

Benjamin would have turned 18 tomorrow. A vigil has been scheduled tomorrow night at 6 on the Valdosta State University campus. It will be held in Centennial Hall.

Valdosta, GA - November 27, 2012, 4:45pm -

Statement from Valdosta State University

“The Valdosta State University Police, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and the Valdosta Police Department continues to conduct a joint criminal investigation into the death of 17-year-old Jasmine Benjamin. The investigation is being treated as a homicide and investigators and agents with all three agencies are still interviewing individuals, collecting evidence, and ensuring evidence is being analyzed. Since the investigation is active and ongoing, no additional information is being released at this time. Anyone who may have information in this case should call the Valdosta State University Police Department at 229-333-7816 or the Valdosta Police Department Crime Tip Line at 229-293-3091. Callers may remain anonymous if they wish.”

Valdosta State University’s website is updated as information becomes available .

Valdosta, GA - November 21, 2012, 6:02pm - On Sunday 11-18-12 afternoon, fellow students found the body of 17-year-old Jasmine Benjamin on VSU's campus.

Brian Childress, Valdosta Police Department, stated, "what if we do have a killer that we're looking at? What if there's somebody out there that might have hurt her? No we're trying to determine that."

No suspects have been identified but investigators are sure of one thing. Jasmine, known as Jazzie to her family and friends, was murdered.

Childress also stated, "this was a young lady. Her life was taken really before it even began."

Jasmine was from Lawrenceville, Georgia. This was her first year at Valdosta State University. Her family has set up a fundraiser for her funeral costs.

Childress when on to say, "I want Jasmine to have a nice funeral. I want her to go out the proper way. It's not a mourning, it's a celebration for Jasmine. Everybody that knows her down in Valdosta and Lawrenceville and New York know how much she lightened a lot of people's lives."

As Jasmine's family celebrates her life, authorities in Valdosta served search warrants in connection with this case.

Childress has said, "I don't want to comment on what they were for or where they were at. I can just tell you I want the public to know that you've got GBI agents, detectives and officers and they're out there right now and we're not stopping."

Investigators have said they plan to work through Thanksgiving to try and find Jasmine's killer.

Donate to Jasmine's Funeral Fundraiser

Valdosta, GA - November 21, 2012, 5:57pm - A 17-year old Valdosta State University student's death is now being called A homicide.

Members of VSU's police, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Valdosta Police have been working around the clock in what they've now confirmed is a homicide.

VSU Freshman Jasmine Benjamin's body was found on Sunday afternoon in Georgia Hall on campus.

The coroner had initially said that foul play was not suspected. But after early results of an autopsy, investigators are now saying it was murder.

They're not identifying any suspects at this time but have conducted search warrants in relation to the case.

Brian Childress, Valdosta Police Department, stated, "this young girl had a lot of friends which makes it even sad, a more sad situation. But we're getting tremendous cooperation from the University and from the students. And that's good but that's also time consuming. And that makes it more complex, so we're talking to a lot of people."

Valdosta, GA - November 21, 2012 - 12:40pm - The death of 17-year old VSU student Jasmine Benjamin is now being ruled a homicide.

That's according to the Valdosta Police Department which is working with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and VSU's Police Department on the case.

Investigators are executing search warrants related to Benjamin's death, but cannot reveal if they have a suspect because it is an ongoing investigation.

We'll have more on this developing story tonight on WCTV Eyewitness News.

Valdosta, GA - Foul play is not being ruled out in the death of a 17 year old Valdosta State University Student.

Early results from an autopsy have raised concerns about how Jasmine Benjamin died. Foul play is not being ruled out.

That's according to the Valdosta Police Department. They're helping investigate the case.

17-year old Jasmine Benjamin was found dead by fellow students on Sunday afternoon.

The coroner's initial report indicated no signs of suicide or foul play. That assessment has now changed.

Brian Childress, Valdosta Police Department: "do we think there's foul play involved? We've spoken with the medical examiner who did the autopsy in this case and based off of information that we got from the medical examiner we have some concerns."

Jasmine's body was found on a couch in this building, Georgia Hall, on VSU's campus.

Brian Childress, Valdosta Police Department: "at this point we've not identified anybody that we're ready to arrest in this case."

Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent Turner: "we are not ruling out foul play. We are examining all avenues as to what may have killed her, what happened to her. And we are following all investigative leads to try and find out exactly what happened to her."

Because it's an ongoing investigation the police would not say what about Jasmine's autopsy raised concern.

But investigators say there are unresolved issues.

This case is being supervised by the Valdosta State University Police Department. They requested assistance from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, as well as the Valdosta Police Department.

Valdosta, GA, November 19, 2012 - On Sunday afternoon Valdosta State University students discovered that one of their own had unexpectedly passed away.

17 year old Jasmine Cathleen Benjamin was a freshman from Lawrenceville Georgia. She died over the weekend and was discovered on Sunday around noon.

She was found lying on a couch in a study room in this building, Georgia Hall, on Campus.

Ryan Ryke is a Valdosta State University Student. He said "the last thing I would think of is death when going to college. Especially as a freshman."

According to the Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson there was no indication of suicide or foul play.

According to the coroner it could take months for the final results of an autopsy which will determine the exact cause of death As for now, staff and students are mourning the loss of someone so young.

Ryke went on to say "just to know that they probably had a really great future ahead of them and now they can't pursue what they wanted to do is upsetting and I feel bad for the family and friends."

Russell Mast is the Dean of Students at VSU. He said "we have professional counselors on staff and they have been available to our students since yesterday afternoon.

And any student who would like to see one of our counselors is more than welcome to. And we're here on call 24 hours a day for them."

The number for grief counselors is 229-333-5940

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