Sorority identifies UCLA student found dead in burning Westwood apartment
The Pi Beta Phi sorority has identified a UCLA student whose body was found Monday inside a burning apartment near the Westwood campus as Andrea “Andy” DelVesco.
The sorority says it is mourning the “loss of their sister,” DelVesco, who was a member of the organization’s UCLA chapter.
“Andy had a contagious spirit and was a fearless giver,” Pi Beta Phi Chapter President Jacquie Medeiros said in a statement. “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.”
Although the sorority released DelVesco’s name, L.A. County coroner’s officials have not identified her, saying her body was badly burned and that it could take some time before her name would be released.
Her death is being investigated as an apparent homicide, coroner’s Lt. Fred Corral said. UCLA is also holding off on releasing the woman’s name until she is positively identified by coroner’s officials.
Meanwhile, the campus is mourning the death, which comes days before classes are set to begin Thursday.
“On behalf of the entire UCLA community, I extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends,” Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement. “UCLA is a close-knit community, and this tragic event affects us all.”
Grief counselors, he said, were meeting with students.
The sorority has not come out publicly to address the death. But students posted condolences on the organization’s Facebook page.
“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,” Emily Rachel Buck wrote.
The victim was a psychology and Spanish student entering her fourth year at UCLA, the Daily Bruin reported.
Several members of the Pi Beta Phi sorority lived in the unit, the Daily Bruin reported.
More than 30 Los Angeles firefighters put out the blaze before 7:30 a.m. in the 10900 block of Roebling Avenue, a multiunit apartment building about one block from campus, said Erik Scott of the Los Angeles Fire Department.
As firefighters tackled the flames, they found the woman inside the smoke-filled apartment. Scott said she was beyond medical help and declared dead.
The apartment was equipped with functioning smoke alarms, officials said. No bars or security screens were placed over the windows or doors to prevent escape from the blaze, officials said.
Arson investigators and LAPD’s homicide investigators were working to identify the source of the blaze. It was unclear if the woman died as a result of the flames or if she was dead before the fire started.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said a person who was seen running away from the fire was a “person of interest.”
“The investigation is very, very preliminary at this point,” Beck said. “Obviously we want to talk to that individual.”
Times staff writer Kate Mather contributed to this report.
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