Collin Daniel Richards has pleaded guilty to murdering Spanish golfer Celia Barquín Arozamena and will serve a life sentence without parole, according to US public prosecutor Jessica Reynolds from Story county, Iowa.
Barquín was found dead on the Coldwater Links golf course on September 18, 2018 in Ames, a city with a population of 50,000 in the state of Iowa. The 22-year-old was a civil engineering student at Iowa State University and had gone to the course to practice when she was attacked.
Within hours of finding her body, police had arrested Richards, 22, and charged him with first-degree murder.
Richards initially pleaded innocent before confessing to murder. Despite his young age, Richards has a long criminal history including domestic violence, robbery and assault. The sentence will be handed down in August.
"My heart is with Celia's family today with the hope that this result will bring them some level of comfort [...] This tragic crime is something we have all been moved and saddened by," said County Attorney Jessica Reynold in a press release.
Barquín was considered one of Spain’s most promising young golf players. In 2018, she won the Big 12 Women’s Championship, a top-level tournament of university golf in the United States, and was the female champion at the European Amateur competition, a tournament that took place in Slovakia.
Barquín died after being stabbed in the head, neck and upper body. According to police, Richards had “fresh scratches on his face” when he was arrested. An acquaintance of the suspect told police that Richards had said he had “an urge to rape and kill a woman.”
Alarm bells were sounded at 10am on September 18, when golfers found a golf bag abandoned on the Coldwater Golf Links course and called police. Police found Barquín’s body in the water at a “certain distance” from the bag.
Barquín had traveled to the United States after receiving a scholarship to study civil engineering at Iowa State University. During her stay, the university named her Female Athlete of the Year. The 22-year-old, who was described as an “outstanding team player” by the Spanish Golf Federation described, was also a part of the combined Spanish golf team, which came in third and second at the European championships in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
“As a person, she seemed to have a smaller character than she really did, but it was just an image. When you spoke with her, you realized that she was very mature,” says Nacho Gervás, technical director of the Spanish Golf Federation, remembering the time she studied at the national Blume golf school between 2012 and 2014. “She was very clever with how she played. And she worked harder than anyone. At Blume she was the only player who trained on Sundays. The others rested and she went out with her clubs to the course.”
English version by Melissa Kitson.