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Kentucky student found dead in his dorm room, wrestling teammate charged with murder

Charles E. Escalara, a 21-year-old student on the school’s wrestling team, was arrested and charged with murder and burglary.
/ Source: TODAY

A Kentucky college student was found dead in his dorm room on Saturday, and another student was arrested and charged with murder in connection with the killing, police said.

The deceased student was identified as Josiah Kilman, an 18-year-old student on Campbellsville University's wrestling team, the university said in a statement.

Josiah Kilman, an 18-year-old Campbellsville University student.
Josiah Kilman, an 18-year-old Campbellsville University student.Courtesy Joe and Jessica Kilman

Charles E. Escalara, a 21-year-old student also on the school's wrestling team, was arrested and charged with one count of murder and one count of second-degree burglary, Campbellsville Police said.

An arrest warrant was issued for Escalara on Saturday, and hours later police responded to a report of a suspicious person in a barn where Escalara was taken into custody "without incident," according to police.

Kilman was found unresponsive in his dorm room in Campbellsville, Kentucky, about 85 miles south of Louisville, around 12:43 a.m. on Saturday, police said.

He was taken to an area hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

The Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office would perform an autopsy and determine Kilman's cause of death, police said.

Kilman's family said in a statement to NBC News the 18-year-old was from Columbia Falls, Montana, and was attending the school on a biblical scholarship.

"He was well known to many as an avid athlete and faithful religious leader. Josiah influenced many hearts as he was a true example of compassion, kindness and love," his 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."

Campbellsville University President Joseph Hopkins said the school community was "grieving a heavy loss."

"Josiah Kilman was a beloved member of our community. He was a bright light, and a person of incredible hope. His faith was contagious across our campus. Because of the faithful life and bold witness he lived in front of us, we take comfort in knowing he is with his Lord and Savior right now," Hopkins said.

Before Escalara's arrest, the university said police had not identified a continued threat to students, but urged campus area residents to "heighten precautions," like securing residences and vehicles.

Escalara was being held on $2 million bond at the Taylor County Detention Center, according to jail records. It is unclear if Escalara had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.