Katie Autry Murder: Where Are Stephen Soules and Lucas Goodrum Now?

Image Credit: Find a Grave

While returning from a fun fraternity party in 2003, Katie Autry would not have expected that a gruesome death awaited her in her dorm room. She was assaulted and murdered brutally before she was set on fire. Hulu’s ‘Death in the Dorms: Katie Autry’ and Investigation Discovery’s ‘Murder in Bowling Green’ delve deep into the horrific case that sent shockwaves across the community as the police left no stone unturned to find out the identity of the perpetrator/s responsible for the murder of the 18-year-old freshman. Since the episodes also include interviews with Katie’s loved ones and officials involved in the case, we get to learn about the intricate details.

Katie Autry Was Found in a Severely Burned State in Her Dorm Room

Melissa Kaye “Katie” Autry was brought into the world by Donnie Rose Autry on June 10, 1984, in Daviess County, Kentucky. Growing up in the foster house, she was loved and taken care of by her foster parents, Jim and Shirley Inman. She also shared a close-knit bond with her sister, Lisa Michelle Autry. After completing her schooling at Hancock County High School in 2002, she joined Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green. During high school, she took part in different kinds of extra-curricular activities, such as track, cheerleading, SADD, Pep, Beta, FCA, TSA, Principal’s Leadership, and more.

Image Credit: Daddislilgirl/Find a Grave

Her accolades are a testament to how smart and talented she was. They included Academic All-State, Honor Roll Student of the Month, DAPOS Cheerleading Scholarship, Perfect Attendance, 3rd Place Cheerleading in Game All “A” Classic 1999, District Cheerleader 2002, and many more. Apart from her academics, she was also quite religious. She was a member of the youth group at Pellville Baptist Church. Unfortunately, with a bright future in front of her, she departed from this world in May 2003. On the night of May 3, 2003, the 18-year-old went out with her friends to attend a fraternity party and returned to her dorm after a few hours. At approximately 4 am on May 4, her dorm room’s smoke alarm went off, after which the police were called up to inspect the scene.

When the authorities arrived, they found Katie severely injured and burned. Apart from suffering third and fourth-degree burns, she also had puncture wounds and severe abrasions to her face and neck. She was immediately taken to Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee, for the necessary treatment after the medics performed CPR on her at the site. However, three days later, on May 7, 2003, she tragically succumbed to the burns at the hospital. Meanwhile, the detectives got to work and collected any evidence they could find at the crime scene before interrogating the 18-year-old’s family and friends in the hope of finding a lead or two to further their investigation.

The Killer Assaulted Katie Autry Before Getting Murdered

After digging deep into the case, the investigators connected the dots and learned that at the fraternity party, two men named Stephen Soules and Lucas Goodrum, neither of whom were students at Western Kentucky University, possibly noticed Katie Autry while they were busy drinking. When she left the party alone, Stephen and allegedly Lucas followed her as she made her way to her dorm room on the University campus. According to reports, the two entered her room and ended up raping, robbing, assaulting, and setting her on fire, leaving her to die amidst the flames as they fled the scene.

A few days after the tragic incident, Katie’s potential murderers were arrested and taken into custody on May 12, 2003. In an interview with detectives, Stephen testifies, “She was fighting, but there wasn’t anything she could do.” Denying attacking Katie, Stephen stated that he was forced to rape her at the command of Lucas. He blamed it all on Lucas and kept his name clear of any wrongdoings.

While Stephen Soules is Serving His Sentence, Lucas Goodrum Was Cleared of All Charges

About 10 months after the murder of Katie Autry, on March 23, 2004, Stephen pled guilty to seven of the nine charges he faced, including first-degree robbery, murder, arson by complicity, first-degree rape with serious physical injury, first-degree sodomy with serious physical injury, first-degree complicity sodomy, and first-degree complicity rape. Despite agreeing to testify in Lucas Goodrun’s trial, the jury came back with six life sentences and an additional 20 years without the possibility of parole. While Stephen implicated Lucas in order to avoid the death sentence, the prosecutors believed that both of them followed Katie to her dorm room.

Lucas’ defense was quick to claim that Stephen’s testaments were lies as it couldn’t be proved that Lucas was even in the room that fateful night. As a matter of fact, this argument was solidified with the support of Lucas’ father and stepmother, who testified that he was with them at their house in Scottsville, which is about 25 miles away from the university, at the time of the fire. Moreover, a former inmate of Lucas also went against him and claimed that he had confessed to killing Katie during one of their jailtime conversations. However, since the inmate waited for three months to reveal the information, Lucas’ lawyer easily dismissed the credibility of his claim.

Thus, after being behind bars in prison for 22 months, in March 2005, Lucas was acquitted of all the charges against him and released from prison. In a state of bliss, he expressed his sentiments at a news conference amidst his family members, saying, “I’m just happy justice has prevailed today.” He also stated, “I’m happy to be out and be a free man, and be here with my family,” On the other hand, on May 13, 2005, Stephen was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for his testimony against Lucas. Currently, he is serving a life sentence at Northpoint Training Center at 710 Walter Reed Road in Burgin, Kentucky.

Several years after the murder of Katie, Lucas had troubles with the law yet again in Texas, where he was helping out his family on a small ranch. In July 2016, a woman alleged that Lucas stole her cell phone and keys, following which an arrest warrant was issued a month later. When the hearing for the same took place in October 2016, he failed to show up at the announcement. Consequently, the case was dismissed in August 2020, as it had been more than four years since the complaint was initiated with an unserved warrant. As of 2022, Lucas was leading a life of freedom in the state of Kentucky, and it is likely he still resides there alongside his family and friends.

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