Man Says He Saw Attack on Ky. Student

A man told police he witnessed the fatal attack on a Western Kentucky University student who was found burned and stabbed in her dormitory room, court papers filed Monday said.


BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (AP) -- A man told police he witnessed the fatal attack on a Western Kentucky University student who was found burned and stabbed in her dormitory room, court papers filed Monday said.

A citation that contained material to support Sunday's arrest of Lucas Goodrum, said the unidentified man told police he watched Goodrum carry out the attack on 18-year-old Katie Autry.

Autry was found May 4 in her burning second-floor dorm room with third-degree burns and puncture wounds and abrasions to her face and neck. She died Wednesday, and an autopsy was pending.

Goodrum, 21, of Scottsville, pleaded innocent Monday to murder in Warren County District Court. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for May 19. Bond was set at $1 million, and Goodrum was appointed a public advocate.

Goodrum was not a student, and university police had provided no details about him or his relationship to Autry. She attended school part time and had worked a short time as a dancer at a strip club.

The ``eyewitness stated that on (May 4), he observed Lucas Goodrum rape, beat and set on fire the body of Melissa K. Autry in Room 214,'' said the citation, which was filed Monday in Warren County District Court. The citation gave no detail on a possible motive.

No other person has been charged in the case, and Western Kentucky University police would not immediately comment on whether additional charges were forthcoming.

University spokesman Bob Skipper would not release any information regarding the eyewitness, including what his relationship to Autry and Goodrum was and whether he had any connection to the school.

``We're still investigating, Skipper said. ``It's a critical time.''

Despite the arrest, students continued to question whether they're safe in the residence halls.

Molly Sims, a junior at the 16,000-student school, said entrances to the dorms _ especially back doors _ need to be more secure.

``They're going to have to step up the security,'' said Sims, a former dorm desk clerk. ``Anyone can come in without being seen if they wanted to.''

University President Gary Ransdell repeated that all dorm security policies would be reviewed.

``We believe the residence halls are safe,'' Ransdell said, ``but we will question everything.''

No other students were injured in the fire in the nine-story dorm.

In Autry's hometown Sunday, family members and friends packed Pellville Baptist Church to remember the former cheerleader. The memorial service included some of Autry's favorite country and pop songs.

``We still lost Katie, and there's nothing that can bring her back to us,'' said Virginia White, her aunt.

White has said that she warned her niece of the possible dangers of dancing in a strip club. She said Sunday that police did not tell her whether there was any link to Autry's dancing.

The funeral followed three days of visitation at the funeral home. Virginia White, Autry's aunt, said she and other family members saw a man at the funeral home Saturday night they didn't recognize until they saw a photograph of Goodrum on television and the Internet the next day.

The man looked at names in the guest register but didn't sign it and didn't go into the chapel where Autry's body was, White said. The man was talking to two other people her family also didn't recognize, she said.

``They should not have been there,'' White said in a telephone interview Monday night. ``It was just cruelty on top of cruelty.''

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