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Authorities say deadly fire in St. Francois County that killed a couple was a homicide


PARK HILLS, Missouri — A southeast Missouri couple killed in a fire at their home were the victims of murder, authorities said.

The Daily Journal newspaper in Park Hills, Missouri ( ) reports that 50-year-old Stanley Halter and Tammy Halter, 46, died in the blaze that broke out before dawn Monday in a rural area near Park Hills. The St. Francois County Sheriff's Department announced Monday night that, following autopsies, the deaths were being treated as homicides.

Sheriff Dan Bullock declined to release the cause of death.

"The autopsy gave us reasonable cause that we should do that, so that's where we are headed with it," Bullock said.

The bodies were found in the home. By the time firefighters arrived the home was engulfed in flames.

Flames were intense. One firefighter told a Daily Journal reporter that the fire was raging by the time firefighters arrived. He said the heat was so intense that firefighters could feel it from inside the fire truck as they pulled up near the small frame home, about 70 miles southwest of St. Louis.

Firefighters believe the blaze began in the living room.

There were initial reports that a third person was in the home, but that proved unfounded. The couple's children were staying with relatives at the time of the fire, St. Francois County Coroner James Coplin said.

Information from: Daily Journal,

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