Homicide investigation after body found with gunshot wounds after fire

By Heartland News

RIPLEY COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - The Ripley County Sheriff's Department is investigating a homicide after two people were found in a burned home, one with gunshot wounds.

Sheriff Ron Barnett says autopsy results show 81-year-old Edgar Atkinson was shot once in the upper back and once in the back of the head before the fire was set.

The house on Highway N2A burned late Saturday night or early Sunday morning.

He says 69-year-old Bonnie Chase was found laying on a gas can.  Her body did not have any gunshot wounds.  Police are waiting on toxicology results for Chase's cause of death.

Barnett says he does not know what kind of weapon was used to kill Atkinson because only particles of a bullet were found.

The state fire marshal is investigating cause of fire and has not reported any signs of an accelerant being used.

"Through our observation and neighbors as well, they liked to go to a lot of farm sales and they had a lot of stuff in the house," Barnett said.  "They had a lot of things in there so it may not be uncommon to have a gas jug in there."

Sheriff Barnett says it's been difficult for investigators to find a lot of evidence because the fire destroyed 90 percent of the evidence they would normally look for.

"In a situation like this, a big percentage of the evidence in a fire is gone so you don't have a lot to look for, so you just have to sift through the things that you can," he said.

"Well, I was very surprised," Barnett said.  "Naturally you hope for the best in situations like this."

Barnett says they don't know of any reason why anyone would want to hurt either Atkinson or Chase.

Authorities say the investigation hasn't revealed a motive for the homicide, as they say both were known as very nice people.

Edgar Atkinson's family drove up from Florida Thursday to speak with investigators.

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