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  1. #1
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Spring Hill Fla--Domestic Dispute Ends with House Fire & Fire Fatality

    Tampa Tribune--Hernando Today

    Father of two killed in fire
    By ROBERT NOLTE rnolte@hernandotoday.com
    Published: Sep 24, 2003


    SPRING HILL - A distraught 38-year-old man died in an explosive fire at his home early Wednesday after an argument with his wife over taking medicine.
    The drama began shortly after 6 a.m. when deputies were called to 11135 Holbrook St. in Spring Hill to a verbal spat between a man and his wife.
    The officers separated the quarreling couple, parents of two young children, according to Lt. Joe Paez, the sheriff's media spokesman. One deputy spoke to the husband on the front lawn while another officer interviewed the wife.
    Suddenly, the husband bolted from the yard, ran into the ranch-styled home and locked the door. Deputies gave chase then after hearing a muffled explosion broke into the house and searched for him as his wife and two children watched in horror from the yard.
    Flames, smoke and fumes became so intense the deputies had to retreat from the modest home but not before calling other officers and Spring Hill Fire Rescue to the scene.
    The deputies were rushed to Spring Hill Regional Hospital where they were treated for smoke inhalation and later released.
    "We understand the couple was arguing over the husband not taking his medicine as prescribed by his doctor," said Paez.
    "He didn't have any weapons in his house," said Carmen Centron who lives across the street from the victims. "Everybody knew Ralph. He was a nice guy, always happy."
    Though sheriff's officers were not releasing the victim's name, it was learned that a Crystal and Ralph Parson live at the Holbrook Street address.
    "The fire damaged the body so badly we may have to make a positive identification by using dental records," said Paez. "We're pretty sure we know who the victim is but until there is a positive identification, we are withholding the name." An autopsy will be done this morning by the medical examiner's office in Leesburg.
    The initial call to police was made at 5:52 a.m. by a friend. Sometime during the incident, the wife had called one of her acquaintances and asked her to call for help. Other than the two deputies who responded to the report of a domestic disturbance in progress, there were no other witnesses besides the victim's wife and his children.
    The two officers handling the call were Deputies Mack Murdo and Shawn Garlarza.
    The street in front of the stricken home was strewn with debris and emergency equipment most of the morning as detectives fanned throughout the neighborhood to talk with witnesses.
    Spring Hill Fire Rescue Chief J.J. Morrison reported the home was a total loss with most of the burn-out visible in the garage where firefighters found the body. There was no indication that gunfire occurred except for a popping sound heard by deputies just before the home exploded in flames.
    It appears the husband may have used an accelerant such as gasoline to start the fire but that won't be known for certain until the state fire marshal completes his investigation.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.


  2. #2
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post second stroy

    St. Petersburg Times--Hernando

    House burns with man inside
    The man locked himself inside after speaking to deputies about a fight with his wife. They kicked in a door after seeing smoke and found him dead.

    By DUANE BOURNE, Times Staff Writer
    Published September 25, 2003

    SPRING HILL - Seconds after telling Hernando County sheriff's deputies why he and his wife had been arguing, a Spring Hill man rushed inside his house, barricaded himself and set the building on fire, authorities said.

    "Deputies were beating on the door, telling him to come out," said sheriff's spokesman Lt. Joseph Paez. "In a matter of seconds, they saw smoke coming from the windows, and heard popping sounds and an explosion inside."

    As the man's wife looked on, Deputies Shawn Galarza and John McMurdo forced their way inside the home and into thick, black smoke. But by then it was too late, Paez said.

    The man was dead. Paez said that the Sheriff's Office will wait until 5th District medical examiner's office performs an autopsy before making a positive identification.

    Property records indicate that Ralph E. and Crystal S. Parson bought the home in March 1999. But neither neighbors nor investigators would confirm that.

    The string of events began about 5:50 a.m. when Galarza and McMurdo responded to a domestic disturbance at 11135 Holbrook St., near Canfield Drive in Spring Hill, a Sheriff's Office report said.

    A concerned relative had called 911 after she overheard quarreling while on the telephone with the wife.

    The couple had been arguing about the husband missing doctor's appointments and not taking his medication, said Paez.

    Galarza and McMurdo were trying determine the circumstances surrounding the argument when the man dashed inside the single-family home and locked the doors behind him.

    "We go out on a fairly significant amount of domestic disturbances," said Paez. He said the Sheriff's Office had not responded to the residence before. "In some cases it's verbal and we get the parties separated. All indications were that it was just a verbal dispute."

    Soon, thick smoke wafted from the wood-frame home, and the deputies screamed for the man to come out.

    Galarza and McMurdo then kicked in the front door and searched furiously. They found the man's burned body lying in the garage.

    "They were searching room to room," said Paez. "The deputies knew he was dead. They left him there and got out of the house before they got hurt."

    Minutes later, Spring Hill Fire Rescue extinguished the fire, but not before it gutted the three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

    Galarza and McMurdo were later taken to Spring Hill Regional Hospital with minor smoke inhalation.

    "At this point, we don't know the cause of the fire," said Paez. "We don't know whether he died from smoke inhalation or a self-inflicted wound."

    Meanwhile, friends and neighbors huddled about the man's wife, some shaking their heads and others standing with hands over their mouths in disbelief. She sought refuge with neighbors after she and her daughters watched the scene unfold from the street.

    She wept audibly.

    - Duane Bourne can be reached at 754-6114. Send e-mail to dbourne@sptimes.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  3. #3
    District Chief distchief60b's Avatar
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    Post Follow Up

    St. Petersburg Times

    Officials identify man who died in blaze
    Authorities are still trying to clear up the events involving Ralph E. Parson of Spring Hill, who apparently set the fire.

    By DUANE BOURNE, Times Staff Writer
    Published September 26, 2003


    SPRING HILL - Authorities have identified the Spring Hill man who barricaded himself inside his home on Wednesday and set the wood-framed structure on fire, as Ralph E. Parson, 37.

    The positive identification came as the 5th District medical examiner was able to match dental records with Parson, who was severely burned in the early-morning blaze.

    It also comes as investigators tried to clarify the events leading up to Parson's death.

    Hernando County sheriff's spokesman Lt. Joseph Paez said that deputies Shawn Galarza and John McMurdo had not kicked in the front door as it was first reported.

    Initially, the Sheriff's Office reported that Galarza and McMurdo forced their way into the burning home, only to find Parson dead in the garage.

    "There was a little bit of confusion that morning," said Paez.

    That confusion may have cost Parson his life, said Parson's sister Ella Winner, 47, of Ridge Manor.

    "They could have saved him," said Winner. "They were there to help."

    The drama unfolded in the close-knit neighborhood on Holbrook Street and Canfield Drive about 5:50 a.m. Wednesday when Parson's sister-in law, Charlotte Johnson, called 911 dispatchers after having overheard Parson and his wife, Crystal, quarreling. Johnson overheard the fight while she was on the telephone with her sister Crystal Parson.

    Paez, who refused to comment on Winner's claims, said the couple began arguing after Crystal Parson complained about her husband missing doctor's appointments and not taking pain medication.

    Winner said Ralph Parson had been going through withdrawal, having recently stopped taking powerful painkillers for a construction-related injury he suffered three years ago.

    When Galarza and McMurdo arrived at the home, they were confronted by a "fidgety" Parson, who told them that he and his wife had been arguing and he was going to leave when his sister picked him up, a sheriff's report stated.

    After determining that the argument had not turned physical, the deputies attempted to detain Parson, who grew increasingly combative, the report said.

    "It appears they were trying to take Parson on a Baker Act," said Paez, refering to the state law that allows officers to take someone into custody if they are considered a threat to themselves or others.

    Winner said her brother had other ideas.

    "He thought everyone was against him," she said. "We were trying to get him help. That's what the police were there for. He was freaking out thinking that they were going to commit him."

    Parson struggled to the ground with the deputies and tried to pull away from their grasps, the report stated.

    That's when Galarza, in an attempt to restrain Parson, discharged his pepper spray, the report said.

    "But it did not seem to have an effect on him," said Paez.

    The spray, however, temporarily blinded McMurdo, the report said. Parson then jumped to his feet and barricaded himself inside the house he shared with his wife and two children.

    Galarza and McMurdo then went to the garage, which they thought was partially opened. But as they approached, the door slammed shut, the report said.

    Within seconds, officers heard a large explosion and saw black smoke spewing from the garage and windows. Paez said investigators think Parson doused himself and the house with an accelerant and set the fatal fire.

    By late Thursday, state Fire Marshal Rex Hinkle was still trying to determine the type of accelerant that was used.

    "The house was fully engulfed in flames," said Paez. "The deputies apparently were not able to get in."

    Spring Hill Fire Rescue responded and extinguished the fire. Shortly afterward, Galarza, Lt. Craig Baxley and emergency personnel entered the still smoldering home and found Parson lying in the garage.

    Galarza was later taken to Oak Hill Hospital, where he was treated for smoke inhalation and released.

    In the meantime, Winner is trying to pick up the pieces after losing a loved one she said tended house while his wife finished college and treated neighborhood children to a Halloween party.

    She still can't help but think, what if deputies had knocked in the front door.

    "They could have prevented it," she said. "I am in total shock. He was the most wonderful man who you would ever meet."

    - Duane Bourne can be reached at 754-6114. Send e-mail to dbourne@sptimes.com
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

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