Los Angeles

Drug Dealing Charges Were Pending Against UCLA Student Found Dead

Charges of possession of a controlled substances for sale had been filed two months ago against the UCLA student whose sorority identified her as the woman found dead Monday morning after a fire in the off-campus apartment she shared with sorority sisters.

Andrea Lauren DelVesco's death is being investigated as a homicide, said Los Angeles Police Det. Lauren Rauch. It is expected an autopsy will be performed Thursday to determine cause of death, according to Asst. Chief Coroner Ed Winter. He said dental records were being obtained for purpose of making positive identification of the severely burned remains.

Detectives are seeking a man seen running from the Roebling Avenue apartment, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said Tuesday.

UCLA Police had arrested DelVesco at another Westwood apartment on June 10, according to police records.

On July 8, she was arraigned on charges of possessing the drugs Ecstasy, LSD, methamphetamine and Psilocybin, according to Los Angeles Superior Court records reviewed by NBC4. DelVesco pleaded not guilty.

DelVesco was allowed to remain free on her own recognizance, and was due back at Airport Court Friday for date setting for a preliminary hearing.

LAPD has declined to discuss specifics of its investigation, but the drug charges are a factor that detectives would consider, said licensed private investigator Paul Huebl, a former Chicago Police Officer experienced in the handling of narcotics cases.

"They have to look at it. It's very serious," Huebl said.

A major danger for arrested drug sellers--if the charges are true--is the fear of higher-ups in the illicit drug delivery supply chain that they will be identified.

"The motive is simply this: If she is silenced, she cannot testify against anyone else," said Huebl.

It is a recurring scenario in drug cases, Huebl said, but he also emphasized that at this point it is not certain that happened in this case.

"It could still be a neighborhood problem, it could be a former boyfriend. We really have to at this point--the police have to keep their eyes and ears open for every possibility," said Huebl.

"We don't have any specifics on motive," Rauch said.

During the summer, DelVesco was employed doing clerical work at a Brentwood law group. She had also worked at the Jamba Juice in the UCLA Student Union.

"She was a very bright young woman," said Jeremy Lessem, the defense attorney who was representing DelVesco. He said he thought she had a "promising future," and expressed shock at word of her death.

Lessem declined to comment on whether any negotiations were underway for DelVesco to cooperate with authorities in the drug investigation.

DelVesco was remembered by her nickname "Andy" in a statement issued by the Pi Beta Phi sorority.

"Andy was a friend to everyone she knew," said UCLA Chapter President Jacquie Medeiros.

The sorority did not reveal whether it was aware of the pending drug case.

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