WKU Defends Police Investigation of Autry Case

By: Jon Hardison
By: Jon Hardison

In the wake of the not guilty verdict last week in the trial of Lucas Goodrum, Katie Autry's family is questioning why the WKU police took the lead in the investigation of the case.

Goodrum was acquitted of charges he raped, sodomized, and set fire to WKU freshman Katie Autry in her dorm room on May 4, 2003.

"The KSP or FBI should've lead the investigation, and then if they needed help, they would've went to the university police," said Virginia White, Autry's aunt.

White said she was surprised to learn during the trial that lead investigator Det. Mike Dowell had never worked a murder investigation before.

"It was a big suprise for me. It was very heartbreaking that they didn't think that Katie was worth bringing in experienced people to investigate this," White said.

In their first interview since the trial, WKU officials defended their investigation.

"Someone had to take the lead on this, Mike Dowell was qualified to do that, but Mike wasn't doing this by himself," said Bob Edwards, WKU Vice President of University Relations.

Edwards says WKU police officers have the same amount of and kind of training as city or state police, and that multiple agencies including the Bowling Green Fire Dept., FBI, ATF, and Kentucky State Police all assisted in the Autry case.

Goodrum's attorneys raised several issues with crime scene security and integrity, but WKU officials say they didn't have control of the investigation until several hours after the crime. They say the state fire marshal's office was in control until early in the afternoon because the scene was initially being treated as an arson case.

Asked whether they would handle a future investigation any differently, WKU officials say they have no regrets.

"Hopefully we'll never have to go through a situation like this again. This was a horrific crime, and we certainly would hope this would never happen again. But our police officers, based on what had happened, the involvement of other agencies, I think was a good approach," Edwards said.


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