Last month, 18-year-old Aris Eduardo Lobo-Perez became a newly minted college freshman, moving from his home in Culpeper, Va., to begin his first semester at Radford University.
Classes started on Aug. 26. Seventeen days later, the sports management major was found dead in a Virginia jail cell, eight hours after he was arrested by campus police on a charge of swearing or intoxication in public.
Officials at New River Valley Regional Jail released few details about the circumstances of the teenager’s death but said in a statement that he was arrested just before midnight on Wednesday and taken to their facility.
Jail officers checked on him Thursday morning and found him unresponsive in his cell. New River Valley Regional Jail in Dublin houses more than 1,000 inmates, according to Gregory P. Winston, the jail’s superintendent. This is the jail’s first reported death since 2016.
Virginia State Police confirmed that the agency is investigating his death.
Radford University distributed a letter to faculty, students and staff Thursday evening informing them of Lobo-Perez’s death. The letter said his death was “unexpected” and shared no other details about the circumstances.
Lobo-Perez’s mother and siblings could not be reached for comment Saturday. But tributes started pouring in online from his friends and family in Culpeper, which is about 70 miles southwest of Washington. Those who knew him donated thousands to a GoFundMe account raising money for a funeral.
“In honor of who we grew up with, who we laughed with, who we shared our lives with, and who we currently cry for, wish for any donations to help cover the cost of any future services in honor of his memory,” the GoFundMe page reads.
The online fundraiser included four pictures of the teenager with bouncy curls. He and his twin sister, Ariela, graduated from Eastern View High School in the spring. In one photo, he is donning a Radford University shirt.
On Facebook, friends also organized a yard sale to help with funeral expenses.
Lobo-Perez updated what appeared to be his own Facebook page just weeks ago, informing his followers that he was a student at Radford University, which is located almost 200 miles from Culpeper.
“So proud of you!” a Facebook friend responded. “With hard work you can accomplish anything! Remember we are here for YOU! Take care of yourself.”
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