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Gas can may be a clue in student's death

  • Story Highlights
  • Auburn University freshman Lauren Burk died Tuesday
  • Her car was found on fire in a campus parking lot
  • Police say it's possible a gas can found in Auburn was used to ignite the car
  • Police deny Burk was sexually assaulted
  • Next Article in Crime »
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(CNN) -- Police are investigating whether a gas can found in downtown Auburn, Alabama, is related to the shooting death of an 18-year-old Auburn University student, authorities said Friday.

Lauren Burk, a freshman from Marietta, Georgia, was found shot on North College Street, a few miles north of campus, Tuesday night.

She died later at a hospital.

Minutes after police found Burk, they received a report of a car -- which turned out to be Burk's -- on fire in a campus parking lot.

Authorities think gasoline or another accelerant was used to ignite the vehicle and it was possible the gas can could be involved, Assistant Police Chief Tommy Dawson told reporters Friday.

Police want to investigate every possible lead, he said.

Police also released pictures of a 2001 Honda Civic similar to the one Burk was driving. Authorities asked anyone who thinks they might have seen the car on Tuesday to contact them.

Dawson denied rumors that Burk was sexually assaulted. Authorities were continuing to conduct additional patrols on the east Alabama campus, he said. Video Watch Dawson say there are 30 investigators on the case »

The university's Web site said memorial services for Burk are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at a Marietta church and synagogue, and a campus-wide memorial service will be held Monday.

The site carried a message from Burk's father, James, which said, "The Burk family was so proud to have Lauren as an Auburn University student. We want to extend our deepest gratitude and appreciation for Auburn University, the city of Auburn and the Auburn Police Department. We feel very close to your community. We appreciate what everyone is doing for us and Lauren."

Meanwhile, a Burk family friend said her loved ones were grateful for the thoughts and prayers offered, but asked for privacy "so that they may grieve for their loss as well as celebrate Lauren's life."

Those wishing to honor Burk can do so by donating to Burk's favorite charities, Kathy Singleton said -- The Invisible Child and the American Kidney Foundation.

A fund has been established to help catch a suspect in Burk's death, she said. Donations can be made at any Wachovia Bank to the Lauren Burk Memorial Fund.

Another Georgia woman and a student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill -- Eve Carson, 22 -- was also shot to death early Wednesday.

Authorities in Chapel Hill said Friday they had been in contact with Auburn police but did not believe the two cases were connected.

Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue announced he had directed the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to offer assistance in both cases.

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"Mary and I are deeply saddened by the senseless, tragic murders of these two bright and talented Georgians," Perdue said.

"We are praying for their families and friends as well as the campuses and communities that are mourning these painful losses." E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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