Prosecutor considering death penalty in case where elderly man found dead in fire

Two facing murder charges after elderly man is killed in Harrison Twp fire (WKEF/WRGT)

UPDATE: The Montgomery County Prosecutor said they are 'seriously considering' whether this will be a death penalty case.

Prosecutor Mat Heck, Jr., said the determination will be made before the case is presented to a grand jury.

So far, no further case date has been set.


HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - An elderly man is found dead after a fire in his home, but a twist in the investigation has two strangers arrested for his murder.

Jerald Manns, 75, was found dead in his basement Sunday afternoon.

The Montgomery county corner has not released his official cause of death, and detectives are keeping tightlipped about a lot of the investigation, but a report from the incident says something that was stolen from the scene is what led deputies right to the suspects.

Harrison Township firefighters were called to the house in the 4200 block of Merrimac Avenue after a 911 call from a neighbor Sunday afternoon.

"My neighbor across the street they had smoke rolling, rolling out the window I don't see so much now as I did," the caller told dispatchers.

Firefighters found the basement windows busted, but the house secured.

"Maybe everything's OK, I don't know, I don't see his truck," the caller continued.

An incident report from the sheriffs office shows Manns had burns on his hands and face, from what firefighters called a possible flash fire.

"Quick knocked out of the fire, it was a small fire," said Sean McNeil, battalion chief for Harrison Township fire.

Firefighters said it appears the victim was a hoarder.

The victim was pronounced dead at Miami Valley Hospital.

The incident report says when the victim's son arrived at the fire scene he noticed his dad's truck and gun were missing, and said it appeared his father's room was ransacked.

Sheriff's detectives said the search for Jerald Manns' stolen car let them to Shawn Albertson and Nancy Dalton several miles from the scene.

The pair were booked into the Montgomery county jail on charges of aggravated arson, aggravated murder, robbery and burglary.

"It's horrifying, and that man didn't have a problem with anybody," said neighbor Darnell Finley.

Finley told Fox 45 he knew the victim, and was confused about why, as investigators try to connect suspect and victim.

"He was all right, hate that it happened to him like that," Finley said.

Detectives would not say where they found the suspects with the stolen car, but they did say witness descriptions played a big role in finding them.

The incident is still under investigation and the fire is being investigated by the state fire marshal.

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