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Kentucky Man Accused Of Murdering University Student Who Was Found Dead In Ditch

Sarah Townsend was a residential advisor at Murray State University and studying pre-veterinary medicine. Julius Sotomayor has been arrested in connection to her death. 

By Daniel Egitto
Kentucky Man Arrested After College Student Found Dead In Ditch

A Kentucky man was arrested last week after the dead body of a 21-year-old university student was found in a ditch, police said.

A passerby in rural Calloway County, Kentucky found a young woman’s body in a roadside ditch early on Friday. When 21-year-old Sarah Townsend failed to show up to her job at Murray State University that afternoon, campus police arrived at her apartment for a wellness check. She wasn’t there – and upon comparing her profile with descriptions of the body, police quickly identified Townsend as the victim found that morning, according to a press release by Kentucky State Police.

Fast-moving detective work over the next several hours led authorities to rapidly zero in on her alleged killer.

Investigators began by tracking Townsend’s car using traffic camera footage. They soon discovered that her Toyota Camry had recently been in central Georgia, several hundred miles away from her apartment. The vehicle had then been spotted back to Kentucky, according to the press release.

Authorities tracked the car to the home of 22-year-old Julius Sotomayor, who has ties to the region of Georgia where the car was seen. At 4 a.m. on Saturday, less than a day after the discovery of Townsend’s body, police arrived at Sotomayor’s home; he was arrested on charges of murder, auto theft and tampering with physical evidence, according to the release.

Authorities said in the release that they based the charges on “evidence and statements obtained throughout the investigation."

Sotomayor has previously been accused of breaking into cars in Columbus, Georgia in 2016, the Ledger-Enquirer reported at the time. He and two other men had been charged with loitering and prowling, marijuana possession, and three counts each of entering a car without permission.

Townsend was a resident advisor at a Murray State University apartment complex and was studying pre-veterinary medicine, according to an email from the school that was viewed by The Courier-Journal.

“Murray State University is one Racer family and this loss is felt deeply by all of us,” President Bob Jackson wrote.

Sotomayor is currently being held on $1 million bond, according to online inmate records. It’s not clear if he has an attorney who can comment on his behalf.

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