DNA testing needed in fatal fire

Investigators will have to use DNA to determine the identification of a man who died in a house fire early Saturday morning in the Freetown area.

That process, however, may take a couple of weeks to complete, Detective Bob Lucas said Monday, and police are not releasing the man’s name until his identification is confirmed.

Police do not suspect foul play in the death of the man whose body was found inside the home in the 7100 block of North County Road 765W after it burned early Saturday, Lucas said.

The owner of the home, a 77-year-old man, lived by himself and had no family with the exception of a brother, who gave police a DNA sample Monday, Lucas said.

That sample, along with other DNA gathered from the victim, was later taken to a lab.

Lucas said investigators did not find any evidence of theft or drug activity, but the cause of the fire will be ruled undetermined because of the extent of damage done to the home.

An autopsy was conducted Sunday at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour by Dr. George Weir, a pathologist, Jackson County Coroner Roger Wheeler said.

Lucas said the preliminary results show the man likely died of smoke inhalation and thermal burns.

County Reserve Officer Kevin Settle, Brownstown Reserve Officer Blake McCrary and county Officer Mark Holt were the first to respond to the fire at about 4:25 a.m. Saturday.

Upon arrival, they reported the house was engulfed and part of it had collapsed.

State Fire Marshal Clayton T. Kinder was called to the scene and was joined by Lucas, a crime scene investigator, Wheeler, Sheriff Michael Carothers and county Officer Rob Henley.

Pershing Township firefighters responded and were assisted by units from Owen Township and Brownstown volunteer fire departments. Most of the fire was extinguished by 6 a.m. Saturday.