Duplex fire where man found dead raises questions

A fire started early July 2, 2017, in the 900 block of North Rochester Avenue on the west side of Indianapolis. (WISH Photo)


The victim in the July 2 fire in the 900 block of Rochester Street has been identified as 22-year-old Cameron Wilcher. Chief Deputy Coroner Alfarena Ballew said in a Friday email that the cause of death is pending additional toxicology data and other investigative information.


INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Two days after firefighters found a man dead inside a home that caught fire, there may be more questions than answers.

One big question that hasn’t been answered: Who is the man? The Marion County coroner said it could take several days to confirm his identity due to the extent of his injuries.

The fire started early Sunday morning in a duplex in the 900 block of North Rochester Avenue on the west side of Indianapolis. There is a charred shell where the duplex once stood and the burnt belongings of those who lived there.

On Sunday morning, Kittye Sterrett and her husband heard sirens and rushed to the window to see what the commotion was about.

“It’s not something that you expect to hear or know anything about it. It’s very sad, to say the least,” Sterrett said. “From there it just, police started coming. Ambulance and firetrucks and all started coming.”

Flames overtook the neighboring duplex. On one side, a man managed to escape. The man on the other side of the duplex didn’t make it.

“It’s a sad thing to have had happened. It really is,” Sterrett said.

Early in the investigation, police connected the fire to a stabbing that happened on the same block just hours later. However, officials with the Indianapolis Fire Department said there is no confirmation of the two being related.

The fire marked the most serious of eight others in 24 hours around the city. About six people were injured, including four firefighters, and more than two dozen were displaced.

Rita Reith with Indianapolis Fire Department said the rash of fires are not connected. “No similarities at all. As a matter of fact, we just had an apartment fire. This will be our sixth residential fire. Each of them have been unique in their own situation.”

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department homicide investigators are working with the fire department, which is standard procedure when there is a death involved, but the case has not been ruled a homicide.

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