MATHIAS, W.Va. (AP) ― Three people have been found dead in a house fire that authorities are calling suspicious.
Hardy County deputies identified the victims as 34-year-old Dennis Taylor, his wife, 38-year-old Alaina Taylor, and her 5-year-old daughter, Kaylee Grace Whetzel.
Dennis Taylor was a firefighter in Rockingham County, Va.
Firefighters from the Mathias-Baker Volunteer Fire Company responded to the blaze at the home about 10:45 p.m. Friday.
After the fire was put out, emergency personnel found the three bodies inside the home. They were sent to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Charleston for autopsies.
Investigators say three people found dead in a Hardy County fire Friday night were shot to death first.
Police and the state Fire Marshal’s Office say the fire was set at the house in the community of Mathias in an attempt to cover-up the murders of Dennis “Chip” Taylor 34, Alaina Taylor, 38 and Alaina’s five year old daughter, Kaylee Grace Whetzel.
“It’s a set fire,” Assistant State Fire Marshal Patrick Barker told MetroNews. Samples have been sent to a lab for further examination.
Police in Rockingham County, Virginia arrested Nakia Heath Keller, 34 and Lorie Ann Taylor, 34, Tuesday morning and charged them with the crimes.
Investigators say Lorie Ann Taylor is the ex-wife of Chip Taylor and the two had been in a heated custody battle over their three children, who were not present at the fire.
Keller and Taylor are awaiting extradition to West Virginia.
The Hardy County Sheriff’s Dept. and West Virginia State Police are leading the investigation.
Virginia couple arrested in Hardy County homicide case
From Staff Reports
MATHIAS, W.Va. — A Virginia couple were arrested Tuesday in connection with the Friday night fire that claimed the lives of three members of a Mathias family.
Autopsies by the West Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office ruled all three deaths as homicides.
Police said all three victims had been shot at least one time.
The bodies of Dennis “Chip” Taylor, 34; Alaina Taylor, 38, and Taylor’s 5-year-old daughter, Kaylee Grace Whetzel, were recovered from the residence following the 10:45 p.m. fire.
The fire was ruled as arson and was believed to have been used to conceal the bodies, according to the Hardy County Sheriff’s Office.
Nakia Heath Keller, 34, and Lorie Ann Taylor, 34, both of Folks Run, were taken into custody based on warrants obtained by the sheriff’s office after search warrants were executed by investigators in Hardy County and Rockingham County, Va.
Police said Lori Taylor is the ex-wife of Chip Taylor and that the two had recently divorced and had been in a heated custody battle over the couple’s three children. Those children were not present at the time of the fire.
Lori Taylor now resides with and is reported to have recently married Nakia Keller, police said.
The investigation is continuing by Hardy, Rockingham and Loudon county sheriff’s offices, West Virginia State Police and West Virginia Fire Marshal’s Office.
Police said Keller and Taylor remained in custody Tuesday on fugitive from justice warrants at the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Regional Jail awaiting extradition to West Virginia.
The Hardy County Magistrate’s Office declined to provide information concerning the charges in the warrants since the office had not received official verification that the warrants had been served.