Body Discovered: Man found in burned building; cause of death uncertain

Published on Tuesday, 6 May 2014 22:22 - Written by Kenneth Dean,


The discovery of a man’s body in a burned building has touched off an investigation into the death, complete with accelerant-sniffing dogs and a Texas Rangers investigative unit. 

Smith County Sheriff Larry Smith said a 911 call was made about 11:51 p.m. Monday regarding a structure fire in the 11000 block of County Road 495 just off Ann Campbell Road in Tyler. 

Smith said a small structure in the back yard of the home was collapsed and fully engulfed in flames.

“It was toward the end stages of the fire and appeared to have been burning for quite some time,” he said. “During fire suppression efforts, a body was found in the fire ...” 

Smith said the investigation involved his office, the Texas Rangers, the Texas State Fire Marshal’s Office, the Smith County Fire Marshal and other agencies. 

Smith would not say if there was anything missing from the home, but one investigator, who was inside the home, said it appeared there had been a fight inside, with bunches of hair found on the floor, as if someone had their hair pulled out. 

“We are looking into the potential of foul play, but some of the evidence we have does not point to foul play at this time,” he said. “At this time we are not 100 percent certain the identity of the victim. We have located (whom) we believe is the wife, and she is several states away from here, where she was on vacation. We have to talk to her and debrief her.” 

Smith said his office had tracked the believed victim’s last 24 hours, and because of that evidence, the foul play possibilities were somewhat diminished.  

“I don’t think we are looking at a scenario where someone came here, killed the victim and took a car,” he said in reference to earlier indications the victim’s car might be missing. 

“We are going to dot our I’s and cross our T’s just to make sure,” he said. “At this point it could be a homicide, a suicide, or an accidental death, but I am not going to say anything more than that without the facts to back it up.”