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Investigation continues into murder of Columbia Falls college student in Kentucky

Josiah Kilman
Posted at 2:26 PM, Feb 26, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-27 12:02:53-05

KALISPELL — An investigation at a college campus in Kentucky is ongoing after a student — who was from Montana — was found dead in his dorm room over the weekend.

Josiah Kilman, 18, a standout soccer player from Columbia Falls, was found unresponsive in his dorm room on Saturday at Campbellsville University in Campbellsville, Kentucky where he was part of the wrestling team.

According to the Taylor County coroner, Kilman died from manual strangulation.

Police charged 21-year-old Charles Escalera with his murder and second-degree burglary.
Escalera was later arrested in a different county after authorities informed the public that they were searching for a person of interest in the case.

Our Scripps news station in Lexington, Kentucky has confirmed Escalera was also a student at Campbellsville University, and a roster shows he was on the wrestling team from 2021 to 2022.

Kilman's family is expected to travel to Kentucky.

The family released a statement asking for privacy at this time, but saying this about Josiah:

"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.”

The Columbia Falls soccer program shared they're heartbroken by the news. The Wildcats won the state A soccer championship in 2022 when Kilman was a senior.

A GoFundMe has been established to help the family offset some of the cost of travel and burial. The fundraiser can be found here.