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Slaying of star golfer from Spain shocks Iowa college town

Posted at 3:06 PM, Sep 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-18 16:06:13-04

AMES, Iowa (AP) – A star collegiate golfer from Spain was attacked and killed by a homeless stranger while she was playing a round alone near her university campus in Iowa, police said Tuesday.

Celia Barquin Arozamena, who was working toward joining the pro tour while finishing her degree at Iowa State University, was stabbed by the assailant Monday morning and left dead in a pond on the golf course, police said. Her body was found after fellow players saw her abandoned golf bag.

Collin Daniel Richards, a 22-year-old with a history of violence and drug use, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Investigators said Richards had recently told an acquaintance he had “an urge to rape and kill a woman” and that he was living in a homeless encampment near the golf course in Ames, about 30 miles (50 kilometers) north of Des Moines.

Police said they recovered a knife and bloody clothing linked to Richards, who had completed a prison sentence in June and had prior convictions for burglary and harassment.

The slaying shocked the normally quiet college town, where Barquin was remembered as one of Iowa State’s most accomplished golfers, a friendly teammate and a bright engineering student. This year, she won an amateur tournament in Europe and competed in the U.S. Women’s Open Championship. Barquin, 22, was also the 2018 Big 12 champion and Iowa State Female Athlete of the year.

“It’s rare, obviously. It’s still very troubling for something like this to happen in broad daylight in a community that is as safe as Ames is,” Ames police Cmdr. Geoff Huff said at a news conference Tuesday. Huff said Barquin had no known prior relationship with Richards.

It is the second fatal stabbing of a female college student in Iowa in recent months. An immigrant from Mexico is charged in the July 18 kidnapping and stabbing of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts, who vanished while out for a run in the small town of Brooklyn.

Police were called to Coldwater Golf Links in Ames around 10:20 a.m. Monday to investigate a possible missing female player after golfers found a golf bag with no one around it. Officers found Barquin’s body some distance from the bag, with several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck, according to a criminal complaint filed Tuesday against Richards.

A police dog tracked Barquin’s scent to a homeless encampment along a creek near the golf course where Richards had been living in a tent, the complaint said. Officers found Richards with several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting and a deep laceration in his left hand that he tried to conceal, it said.

“What did he do to her?” an acquaintance of Richards allegedly asked officers who were searching the area Monday.

That man told investigators Richards had said in recent days that he had “an urge to rape and kill a woman” while they were walking near the course, the complaint said. A second acquaintance told police that Richards arrived at his nearby home on Monday appearing “disheveled and covered in blood, sand and water.” He bathed and left with his clothes in a backpack.

Investigators later recovered two pairs of shorts with blood stains and a knife that Richards allegedly gave to two other people after the slaying, the complaint said. Those two individuals were driving Richards out of town after the slaying, but he asked them to drop him off near the camp so he could get his tent.

Huff said no one else had been charged in the case, but that the investigation was ongoing.

A judge ordered Richards jailed on a $5 million, cash-only bond during a brief initial court appearance Tuesday.

Richards, who faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted, reported in a financial affidavit that he has no job. Paul Rounds, a public defender assigned to represent him, filed paperwork asserting that his client didn’t wish to speak to investigators. Rounds declined comment to The Associated Press.

Barquin, a native of Puente San Miguel, Spain, was finishing her civil engineering degree this semester after exhausting her eligibility at Iowa State in 2017-2018, according to the university .

Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen said in a statement on Twitter that she was “deeply saddened” by Barquin’s death.

Barquin was one of the most accomplished players in the university’s golf history. In April, she became the second women’s golfer at Iowa State to earn medalist honors at a conference tournament when claiming the 2018 Big 12 Championship. She did it with a three-shot victory.

Barquin, who was ranked No. 69 nationally by Golfweek, ended her collegiate career with a fourth-straight NCAA Regional appearance and earned All-Big 12 Team honors for the third time – the second player in Iowa State’s history to do so. She was the third Iowa State women’s golfer to compete in the U.S. Women’s Open Championship.

Her former team announced Tuesday it was pulling out of the East & West Match Play in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to be with friends and family and to grieve their loss. Head women’s golf coach Christie Martens said Barquin was a well-loved “outstanding representative of our school.”

“We will never forget her competitive drive to be the best and her passion for life,” Martens said.

Richards left prison in June after serving seven months for violating the terms of his probation, following convictions for burglary, theft, criminal mischief and harassment, according to the Iowa Department of Corrections. Court records show he was arrested in Ames weeks later after he was found passed out near a liquor store, telling police that he took antidepressants before drinking alcohol.

Court records show that since 2014, Richards had also been charged with abusing a former girlfriend, stealing a pickup truck after wrecking his own vehicle, using a baseball bat to smash a car window and burglarizing a gas station. In one case, the Iowa State Patrol seized a long knife from him during a traffic stop. In another, he threatened to return to a convenience store to shoot clerks after they caught him shoplifting.

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