Monday, May 5, 2003

Student in fire was stabbed

By Murray Evans
The Associated Press

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - A student rescued from a dormitory fire early Sunday had what appeared to be stab wounds, and the fire appeared to have been deliberately set, the state fire marshal's office said.

"Apparently this is a crime scene," said fire marshal's spokesman Ken Meredith. "There is a young woman suffering from stab wounds."

The student was taken to a local hospital and then to Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., about 60 miles south of Bowling Green, the university said.

Western Kentucky University spokesman Bob Skipper said the student was in critical condition with extensive burns and other wounds.

"She did have some puncture wounds, but they appear to be superficial," Skipper said. He said he did not have more information about how the wounds occurred.

Skipper said the victim's roommate was not home at the time of the fire, but had spoken to investigators.

A Kentucky State Police arson investigator was sent to the scene, but state police said university police were in charge of the investigation. University and police officials would not release the name of the injured student.

Students and family members, however, identified the injured student as Katie Autry. One family member who asked not to be named said the injured student was Autry, and a cousin, Baker Autry of Olaton, confirmed his cousin, Katie Autry, had suffered burns.

An online university directory listed a Melissa K. Autry as living in Hugh Poland Hall room 214, the room where the fire occurred.

Andrea Pendleton, a freshman from Lexington who lives in the dorm, saw two firefighters carry the injured student out by her arms and legs.

"She was completely black. All of her clothes were burned off," Pendleton said.

Emergency officials treated the victim for about 15 minutes before taking her away in an ambulance, Pendleton said.

Skipper said the fire was put out by the dormitory's sprinkler system. The dormitory houses more than 300 students, which have all been accounted for, he said.

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