From today’s Sentinel:
Woman’s death ruled homicide
Coroner says head trauma, smoke caused woman’s death
By Winston Jones
Staff Writer
Posted: Wednesday, April 1, 2009 1:11 AM EDT

Homicide by “blunt and sharp force trauma to the head with smoke inhalation” is the cause of death of a 69-year-old woman found Sunday morning in a Yeager Road house fire, according to Douglas County Coroner Randy Daniel.

Daniel said the State Crime Lab issued the preliminary cause of death report Tuesday after performing an autopsy.

No arrests had been announced by press time Tuesday, although authorities have said they are questioning a suspect.

Velma M. Stuckey, of 4981 Yeager Road in Douglasville, was found dead Sunday in her home, the scene of the 9:03 a.m. blaze.

Officials said the fire was reported by the woman’s 15-year-old grandson who lives at the address.

“The caller said someone was trapped in the house on the upper floor,” Wes Tallon, county communications and community relations director, reported Monday. “The first fire unit arrived on the scene within eight minutes. Four engines and a full company responded to the alarm.”

State and county fire inspectors are investigating arson as the cause of the fire which damaged several upstairs rooms but left most of the house structure intact.

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has been investigating the death as a homicide since answering the call.

“We’ve identified one person who may have been involved and we’re working to develop evidence to prove or disprove it,” Major Tommy Wheeler told the Sentinel Monday afternoon.

He declined to identify the suspect at that time.

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