The cause of a fatal house fire that the Starr County Sheriff’s Office is handling as a homicide remains a mystery.
In a news release, authorities said the State Fire Marshal’s investigating team and sheriff’s investigators did not detect accelerants at the scene on Palm Street in Las Lomas, a subdivision east of Rio Grande City.
The early morning blaze on Jan. 4 claimed the life of 82-year-old Bartola Davila, who died of carbon monoxide poisoning from the fire.
Later that day, authorities confirmed that they believed Davila’s death is a homicide.
Starr County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Carlos Delgado declined to say why investigators believe her death is a homicide because releasing that information would interfere with the investigation.
Delgado, however, explained that the Texas Penal Code defines criminal homicide as intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, cause the death of an individual.
The Monitor requested incident reports generated into the investigation, but the State Fire Marshal’s investigators and Starr County investigators are opposed to releasing the information because doing so would interfere with the detection, investigation or prosecution of a crime.
According to the sheriff’s office, authorities received the 9-1-1 call at about 1:12 a.m. and when they arrived, a trailer home and a residence were fully engulfed in flames.
Family at the scene told deputies they managed to exit the burning residence, but Davila was not able to make it out.
“Deputies and family members attempted to enter the residence to locate Bartola, but the residence was fully engulfed making it impossible to enter,” the news release states.
After extinguishing the fire, authorities discovered Davila’s body under some debris.
Justice of the Peace JM Alvarez pronounced her dead at 5:15 a.m.
The Starr County Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information to call (956) 487-5571.