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Details In Salem Arson Case Leads To Murder
Updated March 17, 2017 12:49 PM | Filed under: Crime
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(SALEM) - A probable cause affidavit has released some details about an arson fire that involved a dead body Tuesday night in Salem's Southway Villa Mobile Home Park.

A probable cause affidavit states an autopsy was unable to confirm the identity of the body found.

During an interview with police, 28-year-old Joshua Risinger, of Salem, told police he murdered a homeless man named "Gilbert" by starting a fire in the mobile home.

Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin states they were working on leads, but have not identified the victim.

Sgt. Goodin states further testing will be done to determine if the victim was killed before the fire or as a result of the fire.

According to the probable cause affidavit filed by ISP Detective Matt Busick, Risinger told police the mobile home belonged to him.

Det. Busick says this was not a complete statement of facts, but established probable cause for police to make the arrest.

Salem Fire Department received the call just after 7 p.m. after Lenny Hays called 911 and said her neighbors house was on fire.

When Salem Firefighters arrived, the mobile home located at 212 Teresa Street and was engulfed in flames.

Firefighters were on the scene until early Wednesday investigating the fire. After firefighters put out the fire they found a dead body inside the mobile home.

According to police, mobile home park manager Roddy Humphrey told police he saw the man that lived in the mobile home walking through the mobile home park. The man was wearing a jacket and had something over his head and was carrying a duffel bag.

Salem Police Officer Alex Bilbrey patrolled the area and found the man walking on Jackson Street.

Bilbrey along with Assistant Police Chief Tim Miller stopped Risinger. He told police, according to the affidavit, that the trailer was on fire and he had just walked away.

Miller came to the scene of the fire and was told by officer Russell Wilcoxson that fire fighters had found the body in the middle of the living room.

Originally the State Police arrested Risinger on charges of arson and murder. However, Risinger has only officially been charged with murder as the arson investigation continues.

According to the Washington County Prosecutor's office, the Prosecutor's office chose to file only a murder charge at this time because it appears that the fire was started with the intent to kill.

An autopsy was performed Wednesday morning by the Kentucky Medical Examiner's Office in Louisville, KY on the remains. Officials are unable to positively identify the remains, until further tests are completed.

Salem Fire Chief Tom Day says he was on the scene until early that morning with the Indiana State Fire Marshall to help investigate the crime. Day says once the cause of the fire is determined the information will be released by the state police.

Risinger appeared in court Thursday afternoon before Judge Larry Medlock.

Risinger told Judge Medlock he did not need an attorney saying he was capable of representing himself.

Judge Medlock assigned public defender Drew Wright to represent Risinger, and and entered a preliminary not-guilty plea on Risinger's behalf.

A trial date is scheduled for Oct. 3, 2017.

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