Investigators are seeking the public’s help with a Sedalia house fire case deemed arson in December 2015.
According to a Sedalia Police Department news release, at 11:37 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 5, SPD officers and the Sedalia Fire Department responded to a residence in the 600 block of East 10th Street in reference to a house fire. Upon SFD extinguishing the fire, a deceased victim, identified as Daniel T. Smith, 53, of the residence, was found inside the home.
SPD and the Missouri Fire Marshal’s Office determined in December the fire was set intentionally and deemed the incident an arson. While detectives from both entities are continuing to investigate the incident, they are asking citizens to call the Missouri Arson Hotline with any information that may aid the investigation.
“We generally publicize the hotline information to generate some leads to see if there’s something out there we need to follow up on,” said acting Fire Marshal Greg Carrell. “… It can help us pick up new leads or get information from someone who may feel trepidation coming forward in person.”
Citizens can call 1-800-39-ARSON with any information and can remain anonymous if they wish, like any other tips hotline. A reward up to $5,000 from the Missouri Advisory Committee on Arson Prevention may be offered for information that leads to an arrest. The money, from private donors, is collected by several organizations and used to support solving arson crimes.
Carrell noted that every tip received is followed up and that no piece of information is too small.
“If anyone is out there with any information that would aid in the investigation of this fire, or any fire we have out there, we’d like them to come forward,” he said. “Everyone has a piece of the puzzle; they may not think it’s a very big piece, but every piece fills a gap and the more pieces you have the easier it is to solve an investigation.”
He also noted that individuals who think someone already reported a piece of information should call the hotline anyway. It may not have actually been reported, or if it has, investigators will now have a second source corroborating that information.
SPD Detective Kelley Casto said Tuesday afternoon they are waiting on lab and forensic results to come in before they release any more information.
An autopsy of the victim was conducted two days after the fire occurred, but Pettis County Coroner Skip Smith said he is “waiting on some crucial pieces to come back” before he makes a ruling on Daniel Smith’s cause of death. He said he and other investigators are continuing to interview subjects and are waiting on additional reports, so the cause of death is pending.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.