The murder of Western Kentucky University student Melissa “Katie” Autry will be examined Sunday in a cable series that will feature interviews with the two men who were charged in the case.
The 2003 slaying is the focus of the latest episode of “On the Case with Paula Zahn,” hosted by the former CNN anchor and co-host of the “CBS Morning News” and airing at 9 p.m. Sunday on Investigation Discovery.
The weekly show looks at high-profile, emotionally charged criminal cases and features interviews with suspects and victims as well as footage of police interrogations and confessions.
Titled “Voices in the Dark,” Sunday’s episode of “On the Case” takes a look at Autry’s murder.
The 18-year-old Pellville native was raped, stabbed and set on fire in her room at Hugh Poland Hall on May 4, 2003.
Autry died four days later from her injuries at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.
Stephen Soules and Lucas Goodrum, both of Scottsville, were charged in connection with her death. Police said the two men were at a campus fraternity party and that Autry also attended on the night she was attacked.
Soules pleaded guilty in 2004 to murder and six other charges against him, avoiding the possibility of a death sentence. He is now serving a life sentence with no chance of parole.
Goodrum fought the case against him and was acquitted by a jury on all charges in 2005. Soules claimed that Goodrum raped, sodomized and beat Autry before ordering him to spray her with hair spray and light her on fire.
No physical evidence linked Goodrum to the crime scene, however.
According to the “On the Case” website, Zahn interviews both men for the episode, which examines the emotions that flared up during the investigation and in the aftermath, where Goodrum kept his freedom but bears the burden of being tried for murder.
Bowling Green attorney David Broderick, who represented Goodrum, said the case is still brought up to him by others every couple of weeks.
“I’ve been fortunate to try a lot of cases, that one certainly was a high-profile case, but I’ve tried other cases that I thought were equally intriguing,” said Broderick, who was interviewed for the show. “I think, if anything, you can’t prepare too much for a case like this, and there’s just really no substitution for preparation not only by you but by the people assisting you.”
Broderick said his interviews with people from “On the Case” focused on aspects of the case leading up to the trial and the backgrounds of Goodrum and Autry.
During Goodrum’s trial, Broderick argued that the criminal investigation, led by the Western Kentucky University Police Department, was mishandled.
Some of Autry’s relatives also were quoted in news reports as making comments critical of the investigation.
WKU was found negligent in 2009 for Autry’s death, and the Kentucky Board of Claims awarded $200,000 to Autry’s estate, which has been administered by Katie’s mother, Donnie Autry, her sister, Lisa Autry, and her aunt, Virginia White, who is now deceased.
“When you start talking about the case, you focus on Lucas and Katie Autry, but I think Western was certainly a factor in this case, the way they handled things and the way they didn’t handle things,” Broderick said.
Broderick said he has remained in contact with Goodrum, whose stepfather, William Bruce Dugas, was found dead in 2008 in a burned-out car at a rest stop along Interstate 65.
Police concluded that Dugas died from smoke inhalation and acute thermal injury and that his death was accidental.
Goodrum lives in Texas on a ranch owned by his mother.
Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chris Cohron declined to comment.
— “On the Case with Paula Zahn” will air at 9 p.m. Sunday on ID, Digital Insight Channel 471.