BREAKING NEWS: Wrongful death lawsuit filed

Joe Lord

Much attention has been paid to Melissa “Katie” Autry and the two men charged in her death.

Today, more characters have appeared, including a family, a school and a fraternity.

Autry’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Western this morning in Warren Circuit Court.

The complaint also named as defendants the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity, the Student Life Foundation and Poland Hall staff members from last semester.

“We believe proper security could have prevented the attack on Katie Autry,” said Ben Crocker, the attorney representing her estate.

The university did not immediately release a statement.

General Counsel Deborah Wilkins could not be immediately reached for comment.

Representatives from Western’s Pike chapter were also unavailable.

Crocker said Western, the Student Life Foundation and the dorm staff members failed to enforce their policies, procedures, rules and regulations on the night of May 4. That night Autry was raped, sodomized and set afire in her second-floor dorm room in Poland.

“If Western isn’t willing to accept responsibility and to do what is necessary, then you have to do it yourself,” said Virginia White, Autry’s aunt and co-administrator of her estate.

Autry’s reported attackers may not have been properly checked into the dorm, Crocker said.

Students must check guests in at the front desk of dorms. The guest is required to sign-in and hand over identification until they leave.

The suit lists the hall director, assistant hall director and three resident assistants who may have been working the night of May 4, as defendants.

The suit said the Pikes didn’t properly supervise an event on their property, allowed and provided alcoholic beverages to their guests and failed to provide adequate security.

Crocker said the Pikes also violated their policies by allowing uninvited guests into a party at their house on Chestnut Street.

Autry attended a party at the Pike house the evening she was attacked.

The suit seeks, among other requests, compensation for medical expenses, destruction of earning capacity and pain and suffering from the defendants.

Crocker said there won’t be an amount requested until later in the process.

Lucas B. Goodrum, 21, and Stephen L. Soules, 20, have been indicted in Autry’s attack and murder. There will be a pretrial conference on Monday.

Neither were listed as defendants in the lawsuit.

Crocker said they weren’t named because they face punishment in the criminal justice system.

Herald reporter Adriane Hardin contributed to this story. Reach the reporters at [email protected]