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Fire ruled arson, death a homicide

By Katherine Wartell

Police arrested two people for murder in connection with a deadly apartment fire that investigators have determined was intentionally set late Wednesday night in Manhattan.

Patrick Scahill, 20, 1838 Anderson Ave., and Virginia Griese, 19, 221 N. 5th St., were arrested for felony murder and aggravated arson, officials announced Friday evening.

The fire was allegedly intentionally set at Lee Crest Apartments, 820 Sunset Ave., a little before midnight Thursday. Though the flames were reportedly easily contained, Vasanta Pallem, 34, a postdoctoral researcher at K-State and tenant of the complex, died of smoke inhalation after being transported to Mercy Regional Health Center. Firefighters found her in medical distress inside the complex, officials said.

Scahill was previously arrested Wednesday night for various drug charges after police executed a search warrant at his apartment during an investigation into a criminal damage to property case, Matthew Droge, public information officer for the Riley County Police Department, said. He said Scahill was arrested on the murder charges, along with Griese, on Friday afternoon.

Scahill reportedly shares his apartment with two men who were recently arrested in relation to an armed robbery committed early Wednesday morning at Dara’s Fast Lane on Claflin Road.
Both Scahill and Griese are confined to the Riley County Jail on $1 million bond.

The Riley County Police Department, ATF, Manhattan Fire Department, Kansas State Fire Marshall, the Kansas Bureau of Investigations and the Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office assisted in the investigation.

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