Authorities searching for clues in death of Gwinnett student

New information was scarce Tuesday as authorities continued to probe the mysterious death of 17-year-old Jasmine Benjamin, a former Gwinnett resident found dead last week inside her Valdosta State University dorm.

Benjamin -- a spring graduate of Central Gwinnett High School and a freshman at Valdosta State -- was found unresponsive on a study room couch on Nov. 18. With no obvious signs of trauma, authorities initially assumed her death was natural but an autopsy performed by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation now has them treating the case as a homicide.

Valdosta Police Department Cmdr. Brian Childress said detectives have been interviewing several students since they returned from Thanksgiving break on Monday. Several persons of interest have been identified, he said, but the investigation is far from over.

"We're actually still out interviewing folks, we're working on collecting some evidence now, we're getting some evidence analyzed," Childress told the Daily Post on Tuesday. "At this point we're treating it as a homicide and not ruling anything out, when it comes to any specific person either."

The cause of Benjamin's death has not been released because of pending toxicology results. Childress said he expected those results to take "several weeks" to come back, but didn't know if that meant two weeks, four weeks or more.

City and campus police, aided by the GBI, continue to work the case. Anyone with information is asked to 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.

Spokeswoman Thressea Boyd released a vague statement on behalf of the university Tuesday.

"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," the statement said. "Since the investigation is active and ongoing, no additional information is being released at this time."

Students are planning a Saturday vigil in Benjamin's memory. It is scheduled for 6 p.m. in front of Georgia Hall, the dormitory where Benjamin lived and was discovered deceased.

Memorial services are scheduled for Thursday evening at Levett and Sons Funeral Home in Lawrenceville.