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‘Cel was happy every day she was there’: Man charged in murder of celebrated Iowa State golfer

Police charge Collin Daniel Richards with first degree murder in the case of Celia Barquin Arozamena, a golf champion who was found dead on an Iowa golf course. (Video: Reuters)

Celia Barquin Arozamena, a former golfer at Iowa State who won the 2018 Big 12 individual title, was found dead Monday morning on a golf course in Ames, Iowa. According to the Des Moines Register, police have charged 22-year-old Collin Daniel Richards, of no known address, with first-degree murder.

As told by the Associated Press, police were called to Coldwater Golf Links in Ames around 10:20 a.m. local time Monday after other golfers discovered a golf bag with no one around it. Barquin Arozamena’s body was found a short distance away.

According to Story County inmate records, Richards is being held on $5 million bond after being booked into jail early Tuesday morning.

The women’s golf team, which was competing at a East & West Match Play tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich., was flown back to Ames on a charter plane Monday night before playing the championship round.

“It was very hard,” golf coach Christie Martens told the Ames Tribune through tears Tuesday afternoon. She added that she had spoken with Barquin Arozamena’s family in Spain. “I guess the thing that meant the most to me was [Barquin Arozamena’s mother] said, ‘Cel was happy every day she was there. Even though all this has happened, if we had this to decide all over again, we would still send her to Iowa State.’ That really meant a lot.”

In the criminal complaint, obtained Tuesday by WOI-TV in Des Moines, police said they had received word that Richards “had made a statement to the effect of having an urge to rape and kill a woman” and that Barquin Arozamena died of several stab wounds to her upper torso, head and neck. The complaint said Richards was living in a tent in an area close to the golf course.

“A little after 2 p.m. on Monday, officers found the camp,” the WOI report reads. “While officers were in the area, they were approached by Richards. He had several fresh scratches to his face consistent with fighting, and also police noted Richards tried to conceal a deep laceration on his left hand. He tried to bury his arm in the ground.”

A man identified as “C.J.” told police that Richards “appeared disheveled and covered in blood, sand and water” when he showed up Monday at his home near the golf course, asking to bathe. Police said they found blood-covered clothing and a backpack at Richards’s tent along with a knife they said belonged to him.

Barquin Arozamena, 22, exhausted her college eligibility last season, when she became just the second Cyclones golfer to earn medalist honors at a conference tournament and advanced to the NCAA regional for a fourth straight year. She had returned to Iowa State to finish her civil engineering degree.

“Celia had an infectious smile, a bubbly personality and anyone fortunate enough to know her was blessed,” Iowa State Athletic Director Jamie Pollard said Monday in a school-issued statement. “Our Cyclone family mourns the tragic loss of Celia, a spectacular student-athlete and ISU ambassador.”

Said Iowa State President Wendy Wintersteen: “This is a tragic and senseless loss of a talented young woman and an acclaimed student-athlete. 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.”

Barquin Arozamena, a native of Puente San Miguel, Spain, also won the European Ladies' Amateur championship in July, shooting a course-record 63 at Slovakia’s Penati Golf Resort in the third round.

“We are all devastated,” 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.”

Richards has a lengthy criminal history, according to newspaper reports and a criminal-records check. He received a 60-day suspended sentence and one year of probation after pleading guilty to first-degree domestic abuse in September 2015. In September 2016, he was charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief after he and two others broke into a convenience store in Bayard, Iowa. Richards pleaded guilty to the burglary and theft charges in January 2017 and received a two-year suspended sentence and two years of probation. That same month, he again received probation and a suspended sentence after pleading guilty to first-degree harassment. Richards also was required to complete an anger-management program.