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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

‘Intentional’ fire kills Cove sex offender

10-6-2006 Texas:
COPPERAS COVE - A 71-year old man who died in a fire at his residence here on Sunday night was listed on a Department of Public Safety database as registered sex offender.

Kenneth Eugene Smith, 71, died in the Sunday night fire at 1919 Pleasant Lane. Fire and law enforcement officials determined that the fire, which was contained inside the house, was intentionally set, Lt. Daniel Austin of the Copperas Cove Police Department said Thursday.

Police and the fire marshal are investigating Smith’s death as a homicide, Austin said. The Texas Rangers are assisting with the investigation, Austin said.

“He was a registered sex offender,” Austin said. “We don’t know how the investigation will play out. That might not have had anything to do with the fire or his death.

“We’ve got some kinks we’re still trying to work out in the investigation. We’re waiting on a preliminary ruling on a cause of death.

“In a fire like this, you want to determine if the victim was alive before the fire was set or if he died in the fire. By what we know so far, the fire was intentionally set. As for the motive, we don’t know yet.”

According to a DPS database, Smith was registered at the Pleasant Lane address a sex offender. He was convicted in September of 1991 on one count of sexual assault of a 20-year old male and received a 10-year sentence.

Sandy Gately, former Coryell County District Attorney, said Thursday that Smith plead guilty to the charge. The indictment was later amended because it was determined that the victim was unable to give consent because of his mental capacity.

Smith served 120 days before a judge granted a motion by Smith’s attorney for shock probation in January 1992, Ms. Gately said.

Two subsequent motions by Smith’s attorney to release Smith from probation were denied, she said. ..more.. by Clay Coppedge

Cove police: Killer likely burned, cut

10-7-2006 Texas:

COPPERAS COVE - A police official here said a man who was found inside a burning house late Sunday died from blunt force trauma.

The fire was intentionally set, he said.

Investigator Michael Oakes with the Copperas Cove Police Department told reporters Friday police believe the killer was injured in the process of committing the murder/arson and has burns and lacerations about the body. He said the department is asking the public’s help in identifying a suspect.

Oakes said the Copperas Cove Fire Department answered an alarm at 1919 Pleasant Lane at 9:22 p.m. Sunday and in the process of extinguishing the flames discovered the body of Eugene Smith, 71. Smith was a resident of the house and is listed in a Department of Public Safety Web site as a registered sex offender.

Oakes said a motive for the murder has not been established but they are looking into the sex offender aspect of the case.

He said an autopsy report has not been returned, but a preliminary investigation determined that the cause of death was by blunt force injury. Evidence at the scene indicates the murderer may have sustained lacerations, Oakes said, and the intensity of the fire leads investigators to believe the party also has bad burns.

“At this point we are looking to the community for information someone may have about someone they know who has turned up with burns, lacerations or both,” Oakes said.

“We feel these injuries required some kind of medical treatment,” he said. “But the person may not have been willing to go to the hospital because of the attention this case has gained.”

In answer to questions from the media, Oakes said police have not established the weapon used and if a struggle took place. He said the crime lab is processing a large volume of evidence from the scene.

Oakes said anyone with information of any kind should call Crime Stoppers in Copperas Cove at (254) 547-1111. Crime Stoppers pays up to $1,000 for a tip that leads to the arrest and conviction of a criminal and caller may remain anonymous. ..more.. by HARPER SCOTT CLARK

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