A UCLA sorority is mourning the “loss of their sister” after a horrific fire ripped through an off-campus sorority house early on the morning of September 21. The victim was first identified by her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, as Andrea “Andy” DelVesco, 21. Even more shockingly, her death is being investigated as a homicide by the LAPD.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Was Due in Court on Drug Charges
In June 2015, DelVesco was arrested and charged with possession in a drugs case, reports NBC Los Angeles. She was accused of possessing LSD, methamphetamine, magic mushrooms and ecstasy. DelVesco was pleading not guilty and had been due to appear in court on September 25, four days after her death.
2. She Was an Austin, Texas, Native Who Was Entering Her Fourth Year as a Psychology Major
The Los Angeles Times reports that DelVesco was a fourth year psychology and Spanish student. On her Facebook page, DelVesco says she’s a native of Austin, Texas. Just a month before her death, DelVesco wrote on her page that her missing dog had been returned to her. She worked at a Jamba Juice franchise and played on the school’s lacrosse team. NBC Los Angeles reports that she had also been interning at the Biren Law Group in Brentwood, California.
In a statement released on the sorority’s website, Pi Beta Phi Chapter President Jacquie Mediros said:
Andy had a contagious spirit and was a fearless giver. Andy was a friend to every person she met. She was always inclusive and there for everyone. More than anything, Andy wanted us to be ourselves … and most of all to never ever give up.
Writing on the group’s Facebook page, a woman named Emily Rachel Buck said “Sending all my love to you. Having just lost a sister a couple months ago, I know the pain and loss. My condolences. May she rest in peace.”
3. A ‘Person-of-Interest’ Was Seen Running Away From the Scene of the Fire
Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charlie Beck told the media that a person-of-interest was being sought in the case. The Daily Bruin reports that investigators are examining the case as a possible homicide. The student paper adds that initial speculation suggested that the person of interest was DelVesco’s boyfriend. That allegation is not proven. NBC Los Angeles reports that her parents flew to Los Angeles from Austin on the night of September 21.
4. Her Body Was Burned Beyond Recognition
KTLA reports that DelVesco’s body was burned so badly she has not yet been officially identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, several members of the Pi Beta Phi sorority liveed at the apartment complex, located on the 10900 block of Roebling Avenue in Los Angeles.
A mother to one of the girls who lived in the sorority house told Heavy.com that an hour before the fire began, the police were called to the apartment building after someone reported hearing screaming. The source said that the cops didn’t check all of the rooms in the building and left the scene.
5. The Fire Was Put Out in About 15 Minutes
According to a tweet from the Los Angeles Fire Department, the fire was knocked down in about 15 minutes. When firefighters arrived at the scene, they were told that there was a person who was still inside the building. Los Angeles Fire Department spokesman Erik Scott told the media, according to the Daily News:
Firefighters made an aggressive interior attack and performed a rapid search of the smoke-filled apartment where they located a person sadly beyond medical help and declared that individual dead. The apartment was equipped with functioning smoke alarms, and there was nothing to impede an occupant from escaping the apartment, such as barred windows or locked security gates.