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Two Manhattan residents charged with arson in fatal apartment complex fire

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, March 7, 2013, at 11:38 a.m.

Federal arson charges were filed Thursday against two Manhattan residents in connection with a fire at Manhattan apartment complex that killed a woman last month.

Patrick Martin Scahill, 20, and Virginia Amanda Griese, 19, have been indicted on one count of arson resulting in a death, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom’s office said.

The indictment alleges that on Feb. 6, Scahill and Griese were responsible for a fire at the Lee Crest Apartments, 820 Sunset Ave. Vasanta Pallem, a 34-year-old post-doctoral researcher at Kansas State University who lived in the apartment complex, died as a result of the fire.

Grissom said the Riley County Attorney’s office requested the case be prosecuted at the federal level. Penalty for conviction in the case could be life in federal prison without parole, he added.

Grissom said he would not be able to respond now about the defendants’ motive for setting the fire.

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