Residents Displaced By Fatal Fire Targeted By Burglars

By: Lindsey Rogers Email
By: Lindsey Rogers Email

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) -- Riley County police say residents at a Manhattan apartment complex that was the scene of a deadly arson are preparing to move back into their units after the completion of repairs and several of the tenants have reported that items were taken from their apartments.

The deadly fire broke out late on the night of Thursday, February 6, 2013 at the Lee Crest Apartments at 820 Sunset Avenue. Most of the occupants in the building, which is adjacent to K-State’s campus, are university students.

Crews had extinguished the fire and were doing a search of the building when they found Pallem in medical distress, suffering from respiratory problems.

She was rushed to Mercy Regional Health Center where she died from smoke inhalation.

Pallem, a native of India, worked in the university's chemical engineering department and lived in an apartment on the top floor of the complex.

Three people have been arraigned on federal charges in connection with the case.

Repairs to the apartment building have been underway for weeks in the wake of the fire. Residents have been staying in hotels or with friends, the owner said.

On March 8, 2013, Sirui Zhao, a 23-year-old K-State student who lives at the complex, reported to Riley County police that an unknown suspect entered his apartment sometime between February 6th and March 6th and stole a 55" television and Xbox game system.

Then on March 14, 2013, Jessica Lay, 23, who lives in another apartment at Lee Crest reported to police that sometime between February 6th and March 13th, someone entered her unit and stole a 32" flat screen TV and several video games. Officials said there were no signs of forced entry.

Another resident and K-State student, Kristy Swart, 21, reported that a flat screen TV, Wii console and games, jewelry and an iPod were taken from her apartment totaling around $900.

Whitney Dunn, a 23-year-old K-State student and resident at the complex, reported that her flat screen TV, Xbox, Wii console, controllers and games and an iPod were stolen from her apartment totaling $900.

Mohammed Alrabia, 30, tells police that designer sunglasses and a calculator were taken from his apartment, totaling $1600.

Murtada Alsaif, a 19-year-old K-State student, says he suffered a $700 loss when he wallet, cash, bank card, cell phone, jacket and other miscellaneous items were snatched out of his apartment at Lee Crest.

The owner of the complex said the building was secured after the fire so he does not know when or how the burglaries occurred. The RCPD is investigating the break-ins.

631 SW Commerce Pl. Topeka, Kansas 66615 phone: 785-272-6397 fax: 785-272-1363 email:
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