On the eve of May 4, 2003, events were underway that would lead to the brutal rape and murder of Western Kentucky University Freshman Katie Autry.
Autry was at a party at the Phi Kappa Alpha Fraternity. Sometime after she left and returned to her dorm room, she was attacked, raped, set on fire, and left for dead in her dorm room. She died three days later.
The impact of Autry's death is still felt on campus, one year after her brutal attack. The incident has also raised questions about Western's safety policies and procedures.
Students seem to agree things have changed on Western's campus, but some wonder, is it safe enough?
While some tell us the safety of the dorms has dramatically increased, others tell us identification checks aren't done thoroughly, and uninvited guests could potentially slip through the cracks.
Several changes have come about since that deadly night last May. Western now has a permanent committee set up to look at campus safety issues. Single gender dormitories will now be the standard for all freshmen (with the option of continued single gender dormitories for female upperclassmen), there are more emergency phones, a new anonymous tip line, more resident assistants, and a more visible presence by the WKU Police. The importance of common sense on the part of the students has also been emphasized.
Hugh Poland Hall housed freshmen this past fall semester, but it is now vacant for renovations.
While most of Hugh Poland Hall will be renovated, Katie Autry's dorm room is under control of the courts right now. When Poland Hall re-opens in the fall as an all-female residence hall, Autry's room will likely remain untouched, at least until the case is resolved.
One of the men accused of her murder, Stephen Soules, has since pleaded guilty.
He is expected to testify against the other defendant, Lucas Goodrum, when that trial begins at the end of July.