Body found inside charred townhome

March 30, 2009 9:37:58 AM PDT
Firefighters found a body inside a southwest Houston townhome after putting out the flames. Authorities are now calling the incident a homicide investigation. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

The fire broke out after 6am on Pagewood near Woodchase. It began as a fire investigation, but what detectives found inside the charred townhouse is now the focus of a homicide investigation.

They say the man who lived there was murdered and that someone set the fire to cover it up. Police say the victim's body shows signs of a struggle and they found what may be blood on the door. But they do not know exactly how the victim died.

"There are definitely signs of trauma but again, because of the fire inside, it is really difficult to make a determination at this point," said Detective CP Abbey with Houston Police Homicide Division.

Neighbors called 911 early this morning when they smelled smoke coming from the unit. Firefighters say they arrived within a few minutes to find a victim dead on the first floor. HPD homicide detectives believe there may have been a violent confrontation that someone saw or heard, possibly early this morning.

"We know he was alive on Saturday doing laundry, but this fire just happened now. It's difficult to make that determination -- was he was he alive the entire time? We don't know," said Detective Abbey.

Neighbors who knew the victim are surprised. They say he lived here for three years and that he was a friendly man who frequently hosted parties at his home.

"It's sad, very sad," said one neighbor.

"(He was a) very nice guy, very personable. He was great with the neighbors, I would hear. I helped him at my store recently. We just kind of joked on what a small world it was," said neighbor Arthur Warnock.

Police say they are looking for witnesses right now. Anyone with any information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 713-222-TIPS.

The identity of the victim is being withheld pending the notification of next of kin.

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