When 22-year-old Celia Barquin Arozamena walked up to Harley Thornton and his three friends with her clubs on the green at Coldwater Golf Links in Ames, Iowa, Monday morning, they kindly let her go ahead.
"We all agreed that she should go in front of us," Thornton told KCCI. "We knew she would be a lot faster than a bunch of old men."
When they made it to the ninth hole, however, the men saw Barquin Arozamena's golf clubs and cellphone lying in the middle of the fairway. Several tees were scattered over the green, along with what he believed was the woman's hat.
"This was very strange and not right," Thornton said. "There is no reason to abandon your clubs."
He called the main clubhouse, who said they hadn't seen Barquin Arozamena, then dialed 911. Ames police found her body in a pond, "some distance away" from her abandoned clubs. She sustained "several stab wounds to the upper torso, head and neck," according to the criminal complaint.
Later on Monday, a 22-year-old man, Collin Daniel Richards, was arrested and charged in Barquin Arozamena's murder. He is being held on $5 million cash bond and has not yet entered a plea.
Richards was identified as a suspect after police saw an acquaintance of his walking near the golf course, according to the complaint. The acquaintance, who is not identified, asked police something akin to, "What did he do to her?" the complaint states.
In subsequent interviews, the acquaintance told police Richards had "made a statement to the effect of having an urge to rape and kill a woman,” according to the complaint.
Police later located Richards, who was staying in a tent across from the golf course. He "had several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting," the complaint states. During a search, authorities also found bloody clothes and a knife, according to the complaint.
It's believed the attack was "a random act of violence," Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds said.
A native of Spain and a student at Iowa State University, Barquin Arozamena, won the 2018 Big 12 championship and was named the school's female athlete of the year for 2018. She was working on completing a degree in civil engineering, according to the university.
For Thornton, the woman's death is haunting. He doesn't understand how she was attacked in broad daylight, with apartment buildings directly across the street.
"9:30 to 10 o'clock in the morning and with full view of anyone that wanted to look — that is a very brazen act," an emotional Thornton said.
"It could have been my daughter."