Email from the Columbus Division of Police

OSUStu's picture
April 25, 2013 at 2:21p

I received the email below from the Columbus Division of Police via OSU regarding their investigation of an arson that occur a decade ago and tragically killed two OSU students and three other young people.  The fire was at 64 East 17th Avenue on on April 13, 2003 and occurred in the early morning hours after a party.  I have had a lasting memory of this as I was living just north on 18th Avenue at the time and witnessed the fire and the aftermath.  

I wanted to post it here on the off chance that someone in our community may have been at that party or may know something that could help police.  If so, please do the right thing an contact an investigator. 

The Columbus Division of Police needs your help


The Columbus Division of Police is asking for our assistance in reaching out to members of the alumni community. You are receiving this message because you were an Ohio State student during the years 2003-2007.

You may recall the tragic fire that occurred on April 13, 2003, at 64 East 17th Avenue, in which five people died. Two of the young people, Alan Schlessman and Kyle Raulin, were students at The Ohio State University. It was ruled an arson by the Columbus Division of Fire.

The Columbus Division of Police is seeking help in gathering leads for its criminal investigation of the cause of the fire. While the 10-year marker of this tragic event has just passed, Columbus Police believes that it still may be possible to solve this crime, but it will require assistance.

A birthday party had been held at the house prior to the fire being set, and according to witnesses there were many students who had attended this party. If you attended the party and have never spoken to an investigator, please contact Detective Dana Farbacher, Columbus Division of Police, Homicide Squad-CCU, at (614) 645-7581 or Even if you are unsure whether you have information that may be helpful, if you have not yet spoken with police about this matter, please take the time to reach out to Detective Farbacher.

Even after 10 years, this case remains active; and the law enforcement community, the families, and the university and campus communities are working together to solve it—with your assistance. As always, these students remain in our thoughts and prayers. Thank you for any assistance you may be able to provide.

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Jack Fu's picture

I got the same email (at an address that I didn't have at the time, one that is totally unaffiliated with my old address. Did they really track all of us down by name?)  Wish I knew anything that could be helpful. I was living on East Norwich at the time. I vividly remember seeing the pictures of the fire in the Lantern. Terrifying.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Wow. I remember this well. 
I was not at the party but remember hearing they kicked 2 kids out and they thought the kids came back later and lit a couch on the porch on fire?  What happened with those 2?

Unky Buck's picture

I remember that fire. I was living on W. Patterson, but I had friends over in that area. We were leaving 4 Kegs and heading over to another friends house and walked by that party. I honestly don't recall knowing anyone who was there though. Sucks that they haven't been able to solve that yet.
Edit: Just checked my email address where emails to my old OSU address are forwarded to and that was the first one there. So yeah, they're definitely hitting everyone up who was enrolled at that time...or at least so it appears.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

ArTbkward's picture

I also lived on West Patterson during that time.  Where did you live?
I got the email too.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

Unky Buck's picture

If you were heading up W. Patterson to High, we were the house closest to High on the right side (not the house on High St. though). 21 W. Patterson was the address. That house was pretty awesome. We definitely enjoyed it.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

ArTbkward's picture

I lived at 67.  The third house on the right after you cross Williams.  We were practically neighbors.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

Unky Buck's picture

Nice...what a small world. We had numerous parties there...wouldn't be shocked if you stumbled by for one of them.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

ArTbkward's picture

Likewise.  We had a somewhat legendary hog roast on a football Saturday one year.  We charged for parking all year, pooled the money and threw a heckuva party.

We should strive to keep thy name, of fair repute and spotless fame...

(Also, I'm not a dude)

Unky Buck's picture

I think I remember it. If it was a home game, I wasn't there as I had to be at the Varsity Club for work early in the AM, but I recall my roommates talking that up like crazy. And we would've loved to have done that but we literally had no parking at our house. It was street or bust.

Rock over London; Rock on Chicago. Timex: It takes a lickin' but keeps on tickin'

toad1204's picture

Hard to believe its been 10 yrs.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

OSU_ALUM_05's picture

I got the same email, but I wasn't there nor do I know anyone who was.

Yeti's have feelings too.

Matt F's picture

Ugh, I was down the street at the Sammy house and we literally watched it go into flames and burn.  I ended up living next door the year after - such a tragedy.  I got the e-mail, unfortunately I have nothing to contribute.  Wish I did though.

Denny's picture

I was at the party, knew Al, and wish that I knew something about what happened to help close the case.
I'm glad to hear they're still actively investigating, but it makes me terribly sad to think back about that. I lived a few doors down the following year and it really bothered me how quickly the realty company renovated the house -- there were students moved in two years after the fire, which seemed (and still seems) horribly callous on the part of the realty company (I remember walking past an empty lot in Athens or Dayton one year where a house fire had taken place and there was an understanding that the house would not be re-built until all students at the university were gone who attended when the fire took place).
I was in the house at a party my senior year (2006) after it had been re-built and had to leave because it felt horribly wrong to be in the house where the fire had taken place. The whole thing is just goddamned awful.


Bucksfan's picture

If memory serves, I thought that they had caught a person of interest but ultimately didn't have enough evidence to build a case.

Denny's picture



dumpus's picture

Lived in the SigEp house maybe 50 feet from this house.  Was watching a copy of the Fiesta Bowl on f'n VHS when I heard people yelling and looked out the windows and saw the flames.  We used the first floor and basement of our house to establish a temporary base for the Columbus Fire and Police until the quartermaster arrived. 
It sounds cliche'd, but there really isn't a day that goes by where I don't think about that night.  I remember trying to hold back one of the residents from running back into the house in a frenzy at like 4am when one of the police officers told him that the fire fighters found bodies but couldn't yet identify them.   I remember watching one of the firefighters wiping tears from his face in our bathroom while trying his hardest to remain professional. 
I wish I knew something useful for police about what happened that night. 
I didn't know anyone who lived in that house, but words can't express how badly I want justice for the sons of bitches who are responsible for what happened. 

zjhousley's picture

I was in this house when it caught fire and I remember being in SigEp afterwards talking to detectives.  I was able to get a couple people out before it was too late to go in and also awoke the neighbors to get them out of their home.  Unfortunately, I have had to rehash this evening several times as I have been asked to take a couple lie detector tests, as most people who were awake at the time of the fire had to.  I really hope this gets solved someday and justice has its day.

bbase22's picture

I'm glad that they're still pursuing this ten years later.

Jelligrim's picture

I hope they catch the SOB.  Same thing happened to my place on 76 Chittenden back in 97.  Luckily everyone in the unit made it out safely.

BuckeyeChief's picture

 That is horrible. I was not familiar with it or anything, but that is horrible, and I hope they find the culprit.

"2014 National with it!!!"

OSUAndy07's picture

Kinda reminds me of that med student who vanished from the Gateway parking garage in '06. Don't know if he was ever found.

"But I'm tryin' Ringo. I'm tryin', real hard, to be the shepherd"

DJ Byrnes's picture

yeah that story is absolutely freaky. "the smiley faced killers" smh.

Californian by birth, Marionaire by the Grace of President Warren G. Harding.