ST. LOUIS (KPLR) - What neighbors first thought was a deadly, overnight fire in North St. Louis, appeared to be a homicide scene just hours later.
St. Louis Police say the man found dead in a burning home in the 5300 block of Queens, was 19-year-old Aairon Sparkman, he had been shot three times.
He was then burned beyond recognition, police said.
Seeing all that burned wood on a soggy Saturday morning, the sadness seemed overwhelming.
Fire devoured the top of what was thought to be a vacant home just north of I-70 and Kingshighway hours earlier around 1:30 A.M.
It turned out there was a man inside.
“Very intense fire; the second floor extensively damaged. It actually collapsed in on itself; a lot of heat,” said Captain Garon Mosby of the St. Louis Fire Department.
Neighbor, Lanette Farmer, who lives a couple of houses down, was still awake at the time. She thought she noticed the smell of smoke. Then she heard a fire truck, went outside, and saw the raging flames.
“Yeah, the whole top (of the house)!” Farmer said. “Eventually after they got closer, the roof kind of came in. It was really something. When they first got here, I saw them all huddling together. Eventually, we saw them bring out a body.
“When we brought the victim out, the incident commander decided that it was unsafe for firefighters themselves to make entry again in an attempt to fight the fire,” Mosby said.
Firefighters contained the flames to just the one house.
An examination at the city morgue showed the victim, an African American man, had been shot in the head, chest, and leg, police said.
He was burned so badly investigators could not immediately identify him.
There was no definitive word on the fire’s cause Saturday morning.