Sunday, June 1, 2003

Dorm fire victim's family may sue

Mother, aunt will handle estate

The Associated Press

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. - The mother and aunt of a Western Kentucky University student who died after a fire in her dormitory room have hired a lawyer and are considering filing a wrongful-death lawsuit, the lawyer said.

"There's a good chance such a suit will be filed," lawyer Ben Crocker of Bowling Green said. "We're considering any possibility right now. We're doing an investigation to make a more informed decision on that."

Katie Autry, 18, died May 7 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., three days after suffering third- and fourth-degree burns in the fire in Hugh Poland Hall. Autry was a part-time student.

Autry's mother, Donnie Autry, and aunt, Virginia White, were appointed as administrators of her estate Wednesday in Hancock County.

Crocker said Donnie Autry and White petitioned to be named administrators, which allows them control over Katie Autry's assets and to pursue claims, among other things.

Two Scottsville men, Lucas B. Goodrum, 21, and Stephen L. Soules, 20, have been charged with murder in Autry's death and are being held without bond in the Warren County Regional Jail.

Until enrolling at Western last year, Katie Autry lived in Pellville in Hancock County with Jim and Shirley Inman, her foster parents. White said Autry lived with the Inmans for about 10 years and that Autry's younger sister, Lisa, is still in their care.

White also said that Donnie Autry was unable to care for her daughters, that they had no contact with their father, and that state officials thought it best for them to be placed in foster care.

White said she and Donnie Autry sought to become administrators of Katie Autry's estate because "Donnie is her mother and she loves her kids very much."

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