Death of Iowa State golfer just one of several Ames cases regarding violence against women in last year


Chris Jorgensen/Iowa State Daily

Ames Police Cmdr. Geoff Huff on Sept. 18, 2018.

Danielle Gehr

Morning — Celia Barquin Arozamena went to a golf course. This wasn’t an off-beat choice for the former Iowa State golfer. 

But later in that morning, police were called to Coldwater Golf Links after a report of an unattended bag. An hour after that, the body of Barquin Arozamena was found in a pond on the course. She had suffered stab wounds to her torso, head and neck. The police warned the public they should “be very wary.”

A few hours later, police found an acquaintance of the man who would eventually be charged with her murder, Collin Richards. The acquaintance said something to the effect of “What did he do to her?” when talking to police.

Richards, 22, is being held on $5 million cash bond for first-degree murder. Police found out from the acquaintance that Richards had said he “desired to rape and murder a woman,” according to the criminal complaint.

Barquin Arozamena didn’t go to golf in the middle of the night, but in the bright of day. Sociology professor Leana Bouffard said she believes this death wasn’t a result of going alone or going at the wrong time. Rather, Bouffard said, this and other cases of violence against women are an issue of male entitlement and toxic masculinity.

“There is a lot of work to be done on this. Unfortunately, there is not an easy answer. I think toxic masculinity does play into this,” Bouffard said. “I think we’re seeing this play out in a lot of different areas today especially that there is a tendency to justify, to excuse, to blame the victim — in violence against women especially — and that just perpetuates the problem.”

This wasn’t the only crime against a woman in Ames this year, though the others took place late at night or in the early morning. When asked if police are concerned there may be growing violence toward women, Cmdr. Geoff Huff of the Ames Police Department said these issues are rare during a press conference Tuesday. The department’s spokesman emphasized that Ames is a safe town throughout the presser.

“So these incidents are obviously rare still, but I think it is best to take precautions, travel in groups, be aware of your surroundings and report suspicious activity to your police department,” Huff said.

While police have made an arrest in this case, other Ames incidents remain unanswered. Within the span of one week in July, there were two early morning attacks, one resulting in a sexual assault — both between 1 and 3 a.m. Ames police said there was an “ongoing threat” to the community and urged people to use the “buddy system.” 

One of the women reported July 8 that two white males attempted to grab her and pull her behind buildings at 2:30 a.m. that same day near Lettie Street.

After struggling with the assailants, she was able to escape.

The second woman reported an incident also involving two white males who grabbed her and sexually assaulted her between 1 and 2 a.m. in the 300 block of Ash Avenue. She told police the men appeared to be college aged and over 6 feet tall. It is unclear whether the suspects were Iowa State students.

These incidents follow September 2017 reports of four men in a car attempting to grab women in neighborhoods south of Iowa State. A female Iowa State student told police that she heard “get her” as she walked along the sidewalk east of Wallace Road.

Four men in a dark green, four-door sedan began to approach her until she pulled out her phone and heard one of the men say, “she’s calling the cops.” The men got back into the car and drove northbound on Wallace.

Another random attacked happened January 2017 when a woman was ripped from her car and dragged into Franklin Park where she was sexually assaulted multiple times and strangled by the assailant, causing several injuries.

An arrest was made more than a year later.

“Honestly, I was waiting for, and I am still waiting the backlash that is going to be ‘Why was she golfing by herself?’ and I have a really hard time with that,” Bouffard said.

Bouffard mentioned certain precautions that should be made when preventing a crime including not leaving a backpack unattended in a library to avoid theft. Though, with cases of violence against women, she feels this is taken too far.

“I think with these types of crimes there is a tendency to put a much greater burden on women for controlling their behavior, for taking extra steps to make sure that they’re in the right place, that they’re with the right people,” Bouffard said, “and I would prefer to see more emphasis on teaching everyone that you don’t murder or sexually assault women just because they’re alone or just because it’s dark.”

Iowa State Police Chief Michael Newton said the department’s decision to implement a safety response will come after all the details of the Barquin Arozamena case are clear.

“As the Ames community grows, unfortunately, some of that brings crime and safety issues with it,” Newton said. “It’s definitely unusual. I can’t attribute to one thing or another. It’s senseless.”

Newton said their department has plans to implement a safety phone app, which would make it easier for someone to alert police during a dangerous situation.