A 22-year-old drifter living in a tent in the woods has been charged with first-degree murder after allegedly killing Iowa State University star golfer Celia Barquín Arozamena while she golfed alone at a nearby course.
“This death was a random act of violence,” Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said Tuesday of the brutal slaying in Ames.
Barquín, a 22-year-old golfing champion from Puente San Miguel, Spain, was found in a pond Monday morning near the ninth hole of Coldwater Golf Links, Ames Police Cmdr. Geoff Huff said at a press conference. The civil-engineering student had been stabbed “in the upper torso, head, and neck,” he added.
During an initial search of the woods next to the golf course, authorities found a man who “spoke of another individual living in the wooden area who had made statements about having an urge to rape and kill a woman,” Huff said.
Police later found and arrested suspect Collin Daniel Richards, who “had several fresh scratches on his face consistent with a fight,” according to Huff. When they located Richards in the woods, he attempted to hide a scratch on his left hand, authorities said.
Inside Richards’ tent, police discovered a black backpack with two pairs of shorts stained with blood and a knife consistent with the murder weapon, according to Huff.
“First, our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Celia Barquin Arozamena. These are difficult times for them and we ask that you be respectful of their loss as they process what’s happened,” Huff said at the start of the news conference.
In an interview with KCCI, a staffer at the golf club who called police at 10:24 a.m. said the ninth hole, where Barquin Arozamena’s clubs were found, had “several tees scattered about and what he believes was her gold hat.”
“That could have easily been where she was apprehended and struggled enough to lose the ball marker off her cap,” the staffer, Harley Thornton, said.
There is no known connection between Richards, who has “an extensive criminal history,” and Barquín, the 2018 Big 12 champion and Iowa State Female Athlete of the Year, Huff said.
Richards appeared at the Story County Courthouse early Tuesday morning for his arraignment. In a hearing that lasted only minutes, a judge set his bail at $5 million cash-only bond. If convicted, the suspected killer faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Richards has a history of violence, police said. In 2015, he was charged with intimidation with a dangerous weapon after threatening to shoot store owners who confronted him about stealing two energy drinks at a convenience store, according to authorities.
“The state believes him to be a flight risk, [and] also believes him to be a danger to the community,” Reynolds said at his hearing.
Barquín’s friends, family, and the Iowa State community are now reeling over the loss of the European golf champ, who was set to finish her degree this semester.
“This is a tragic and senseless loss of a talented young woman and an acclaimed student athlete,” Iowa State University President Dr. Wendy Wintersteen said in a statement Monday.
“We mourn with her family and friends in Spain, her teammates here and all who knew her. On behalf of the entire Cyclone family, I extend our deep condolences to Celia’s family and her many friends and teammates at Iowa State. We are deeply saddened."
In an op-ed in a Spanish newspaper, journalist Angela Lujan wrote about the moment her WhatsApp group chat “went off really early” with messages about the death of Barquín, whom she’s been friends with since high school.
“Celia was always the girl with the smile...We all always thought the same thing: ‘It does not matter what it is, she is always good at it,’” Lujan wrote. “I dedicate all our triumphs to knowing her.”
Iowa State called the nationally-ranked golfer “one of the most accomplished players in Cyclone golf history.” She was the second woman to earn medalist honors at an April tournament that earned her the “2018 Big 12 Championship with a three-shot victory,” the university added.
“Anyone fortunate enough to know her was blessed,” Iowa State athletic director Jamie Pollard said in a statement. “Our Cyclone family mourns the tragic loss of Celia, a spectacular student-athlete and ISU ambassador.”
Barquín was also one of only two players in the school’s history to appear at the NCAA Regional four times in a row and earn “All-Big 12 Team honors” three times. In July, she won the European Ladies’ Amateur championship.
“We are all devastated,” Iowa State head women’s golf coach Christie Martens said. “Celia was a beautiful person who was loved by all her teammates and friends. She loved Iowa State and was an outstanding representative for our school. We will never forget her competitive drive to be the best and her passion for life.”
The women’s golf team has withdrawn from a tournament in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and returned to campus. Barquín’s memory will be honored at the university’s Saturday football game against the University of Akron, according to school officials.