Thursday, April 24, 2003

College students who died in arson are remembered

The Associated Press

COLUMBUS - The similarities between Kyle Raulin and Alan Schlessman were endless. Tall and handsome with welcoming smiles. The only sons in their respective families. Avid athletes who especially loved basketball.

Both loved family, friends, Ohio State University - and, especially, life.

Each grew up about 100 miles away from the campus where they eventually would meet - Raulin, 20, in West Chester, and Schlessman, 21, in Perkins Township near Sandusky.

"They traveled those 100 miles to find a brother - a brother for eternity," Terry Raulin, Kyle's father, told the 700 people who attended an hourlong memorial service honoring the college students Wednesday at Ohio State's Mershon Auditorium.

They were among the five who died in an arson on April 13 after Schlessman's 21st birthday party.

Also remembered Wednesday were the three sorority sisters from Ohio University who died: Andrea Dennis, 20, of Madeira; Erin DeMarco, 19, of Nimishillen Township near Canton; and Christine Wilson, 19, of the Columbus suburb of Dublin. A separate memorial service is planned for Saturday at Ohio University's Athens campus.

Police have identified no suspects or motive in the fire, which started just after 4 a.m. in the three-story, yellow-brick rooming house rented by Schlessman, Raulin and 10 other friends. The deaths are being investigated as homicides.

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