A teammate is charged with killing a wrestler for a Christian university

Feb 26, 2024, 6:13 AM | Updated: 10:52 am

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A college wrestler in Kentucky was killed by a teammate at a private Christian university over the weekend, authorities said.

Josiah Kilman, 18, was pronounced dead at a hospital after police officers were called early Saturday to Campbellsville University in central Kentucky, police said in a news release. The freshman theology major and wrestling team member from Columbia Falls, Montana, was found unresponsive in his dorm room, the university said.

A state autopsy determined Kilman had been strangled, but a motive remains undetermined, police said Monday.

A campus lockdown was lifted after Charles Escalera, 21, a wrestler and sophomore pre-engineering major from Moore, Oklahoma, was arrested Saturday evening by state police following a report of a suspicious person in a barn, police and school officials said.

He was charged with murder and second-degree burglary, and bond was set at $2 million, court records show. Escalera was found in a residence and admitted to breaking into it and taking food, police said in an arrest document.

A defense attorney listed in court records for Escalera did not immediately return a phone call and email seeking comment. His arraignment was continued to March 6.

Kilman’s family said in a statement that he had a “passionate heart on fire for the Lord” and dreamed of leading others to follow God, WLEX-TV reported.

“Josiah influenced many hearts as he was a true example of compassion, kindness, and love,” the family said. “His example compelled so many others to make the same changes he wished to see in the world, and his impact on their lives will never truly be forgotten.”

University President Joseph Hopkins said in a statement to the campus community that Kilman was a “bright light, and a person of incredible hope,” saying his faith was contagious. Hopkins said he prayed Sunday with wrestlers and coaches.

“I told them the wrestling team is about to get much bigger as you, our staff, students, and this community, stand with them over the coming days and months,” he wrote.

The university enrolls about 1,200 students in Campbellsville and about 11,000 systemwide, the school said.

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A teammate is charged with killing a wrestler for a Christian university