Barbour County: Suspicious fire may be linked to murder - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Barbour County: Suspicious fire may be linked to murder

BARBOUR COUNTY, AL (WXTX) - Authorities in Barbour County have positively identified the body discovered near a burned home as that of Willie Pugh who'd been missing for more than a week.  Authorities have questioned a person of interest in the case.

Firefighters were called to 4444 Highway 51 South in Barbour County Wednesday night around 8 pm in the Doster community. The mobile home was fully engulfed in flames when crews arrived. Officials believe the fire was deliberately set inside the home.   

They believe the fire is linked to the death of 27-year-old Willie Pugh. 

Authorities said the person of interest in Pugh's case, 41-year-old Willie Dickerson, lives in the house that caught on fire. 

Dickerson is in jail in Houston County on an unrelated charged.  He was taken into custody last Wednesday after Barbour County authorities noticed a warrant for his arrest while questioning him about Pugh.

"The person of interest was the last person seen with the victim the night he disappeared, that's what originally led us to the person of interest," Barbour County Sheriff LeRoy Upshaw said.

Pugh's car was located 300 yards from the house that was heavily damaged by fire. Investigators found his blood-stained clothes inside the vehicle.  

His body was found in a wooded area Tuesday.

Pugh was identified through state dental records and an autopsy performed Wednesday confirms he died of foul play.

"There is a possibility that whoever set this house on fire was trying to cover up the evidence," Upshaw said.

Sheriff Upshaw says another possibility is retaliation from people in the community upset about the possible death of Pugh.  He says that investigators have been able to sift through charred remains of the home and find some evidence, but he isn't saying exactly what they found.

Celeste Johnson lives next door to the house that caught fire. She says recent activities are unheard of in her neighborhood.

"I've never heard of anything like this happening, it's very quite your neighborly people this is so unheard of," Johnson said.

The case remains under investigation. Anyone with information should call the Barbour County Sheriff Department at 334-775-1103.

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