Gary woman found dead after fire; family believes foul play was involved

GARY, Ind. (WLS) -- Gary Police have arrested a suspect in connection to a fire early Thursday that may be related to the death of an elderly woman.

Police launched a death investigation after a woman was found dead in her home after a fire broke out at about 3 a.m. It was unclear whether the woman died as a result of the fire or was dead before the fire started. Investigators have not released information about how she died, but relatives said they believe foul play was involved.

Victoria Emory broke down in tears when she arrived on scene in the 3400-block of Johnson Street. She identified her aunt, 79-year-old Barbara Booth Walker, as the victim. Police have not confirmed her identity.

"My son woke me up out of my sleep and he told me what tragically happened to my aunt," Emory said.

She said her family members had heard Walker's death was more than just a tragic accident, but police would not confirm that detail either.

Loved ones described Walker as a very religious woman who lived in the Johnson Street home with her grandson. She recently had knee surgery and had trouble getting around. They were devastated to learn that she had died.

"It's just terrible. I don't know what happened, how that happened," said Joyce Neighbor, a member of the church that Walker attended.

"I just can't believe it. It's just hard to believe. It's just hard to believe," Emory said. "I couldn't imagine her - I couldn't imagine her suffering like that."

"It's just terrible. I don't know what happened, how that happened," said Joyce Dickinson, Walker's friend.

Investigators were looking at a dark-colored Buick that was eventually towed from the scene.

Police said they would not release any information until the Indiana Fire Marshal's office released its findings.

The coroner for Lake County, Ind., was called to the scene around 4:30 a.m. and said Walker's cause of death is still pending.

Gary police said the investigation is ongoing, but the fire is being considered suspicious.
Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.