College Athlete Arrested for Strangling Death of Teammate

( – Eighteen-year-old Josiah Malachi Kilman was found unresponsive in his college dorm room at 1 a.m. on Saturday, February 24th. The student was transported to Taylor Regional Hospital where he died. The Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the cause of death as “asphyxiation via manual strangulation.”

Kilman, in addition to being a freshman and theology major, was also on the wrestling team at Campbellsville University, a private Baptist college, located in Taylor County Kentucky.

Shortly after Kilman was discovered unresponsive, the Campbellsville police issued a warrant for 21-year-old Charles Escalera, a sophomore pre-engineering student at Campbellsville University. During the hunt for Escalera, the Campbellsville University campus was placed on lockdown, and students were told to “shelter in place.” The lockdown was lifted when Escalera was located 17 hours later. A farmer found him hiding in a barn near the border of Green County. Police were able to arrest Escalera without incident and taken to Taylor County Detention Center.

According to the school’s academic website, both Kilman and Escalera had both been members of the wrestling team, participating a year apart. According to the Kentucky High School Athletic Association in 2017, Escalera won the 106-pound wrestling state title. It is unclear if the two students knew each other.

Kilman, who was attending the university on biblical scholarship, is remembered fondly by the university staff. Joseph Hopkins, the University President, called Kilman’s faith “contagious” and Kilman as being full of “indescribable hope” and a “bright light” to those around him. Kilman’s family remembers his “Christian principles” and his desire to lead others in faith by example.

Hopkins and the local police advised students to remain aware of their surroundings, even after the lockdown was lifted. Everyone on campus was warned to secure residences and vehicles and have an “increased awareness of surroundings.”

Escalera was charged with second-degree murder and is being held on a $2 million bond.

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