UCLA student found dead in apartment fire faced party drug charges
A UCLA student whose body was found Monday inside a burning apartment near the Westwood campus had been charged with multiple felony counts of possessing club drugs, according to court records.
Meanwhile, grief counselors were meeting with students as classes started on campus Thursday.
FOR THE RECORD
Sept. 25, 9:05 a.m.: An earlier version of the photo caption accompanying this article incorrectly stated that investigators were working outside the apartment building where the UCLA student’s body was found. They were outside her sorority house.
Andrea Lauren DelVesco, 21, was charged July 8 with possession for the sale of MDMA, LSD, methamphetamine and psilocybin, an active chemical in hallucinogenic mushrooms, according to a Los Angeles County Superior Court criminal complaint.
MDMA (also known as Ecstasy), LSD and methamphetamine are considered party drugs, often used at raves and other all-night dances.
DelVesco had been arrested by UCLA police June 4 and later pleaded not guilty to the charges, said Sarah Ardalani, a spokeswoman for the L.A. County district attorney’s office. DelVesco, who was out on bail, was scheduled to appear in court Friday, when a date for a preliminary hearing was to be set. She was identified by her sorority as the student found in the burning apartment.
DelVesco’s attorney did not immediately return a request for comment.
Coroner’s officials, who have not officially released her identity, said the death was being investigated as an apparent homicide.
LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday that a person who was seen running 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.”
Firefighters were called about 7:05 a.m. Monday to a fire in the multi-unit building in the 10900 block of Roebling Avenue, about a block from campus.
As they searched the smoke-filled apartment, firefighters found DelVesco’s body inside. Los Angeles Fire spokesman Erik Scott said she was declared dead at the scene.
Arson investigators and LAPD homicide detectives were working to identify the source of the blaze, which can be a lengthy process, fire officials said.
Police said they were waiting the results of the autopsy, expected to be completed Thursday, which should determine whether DelVesco died from the fire or if she was dead before it started.
LAPD distributed fliers in the neighborhood seeking information, including sightings of anyone in the area between 4:30 and 7:05 a.m.
DelVesco, known as Andy to members of her sorority, Pi Beta Phi, was entering her fourth year at UCLA, where she was studying psychology and Spanish.
On Thursday, the first day of classes at the Westwood campus, neighbors at the apartment complex said DelVesco had just moved in.
Investigators were moving furniture and other belongings outside of DelVesco’s apartment while a police officer stood near yellow tape, guarding the crime scene.
In a statement Tuesday the sorority asked for privacy as it mourned the loss of their sister.
“Andy had a contagious spirit and was a fearless giver,” Pi Beta Phi Chapter President Jacquie Medeiros said. “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.”
“On behalf of the entire UCLA community, I extend our deepest condolences to her family and friends,” Chancellor Gene Block said in a statement Tuesday.
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Los Angeles Times staff writer Stephen Ceasar contributed to this report.
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