Kentucky college student accused in wrestling teammate’s death

Posted at 9:29 AM, February 27, 2024

CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. (Court TV) — A 21-year-old college student is accused of strangling his wrestling teammate to death in Kentucky.

Charles Escalera is charged with murder and second-degree burglary in the death of 18-year-old Josiah Kilman. Both men were students are Campbellsville University, a private Christian university.

charles escalera booking photo

This Feb. 24, 2024, booking photo provided by the Taylor County Detention Center shows Charles Escalera, accused in the death of Josiah Kilman. (Taylor County Detention Center)

Kilman was found unresponsive in his dorm room Saturday. A coroner confirmed his cause of death was asphyxiation by manual strangulation, reported Scripps News Lexington.

Escalera was found that evening hiding in a residence, which he admitted breaking into and taking food, reported The Associated Press. Police have not released a motive.

Kilman’s family released the following statement to Scripps News Lexington:

“Josiah Malachi Kilman was a young, 18-year-old Christian man from Columbia Falls, Montana, who had a passionate heart on fire for the Lord. He was attending Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky on a biblical scholarship with the dreams of leading others to follow the Lord through the Christian principles, of which he himself adhered to. He was well known to many as an avid athlete and faithful religious leader. Josiah influenced many hearts as he was a true example of compassion, kindness, and love. His example compeled so many others to make the same changes he wished to see in the world, and his impact on their lives will never truly be forgotten. During this time, his family is grieving and asks for privacy to deal with the devastating loss of their beloved son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin, and true friend known to so many.”

Escalera is being held at Taylor County Detention center on a $2 million bond, according to jail records.

Scripps News Lexington contributed to this report.