Police investigate after couple found dead in fire

Published 1:28 pm Thursday, August 28, 2008

BIRMINGHAM (AP) – Jefferson County investigators are trying to determine whether a man found dead in a Mineral Springs house fire shot his wife and then himself.

Relatives of Joseph and June Yates were told Wednesday morning that Joseph Yates may have shot his wife, set fire to the home, and turned one of his guns on himself.

Connie Cox, the daughter of 69-year-old Joseph Yates, said she hopes the allegations aren’t true.

Police found their bodies after the fire was extinguished around 4:30 a.m. Wednesday. Detectives said the victims appear to have been shot.

Jefferson County Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Randy Christian said preliminary investigations indicated it was a murder-suicide.

“We are awaiting the coroners report and ballistics report of the recovered weapon,” Christian said Thursday. “I do not expect to have that today.”

Family speculated that the deaths may be related to a robbery. They said there have been break-ins along the street on the outskirts of Brookside, possibly by those feeding their drug addictions.

“There are a lot of drug addicts out here,” Joseph’s granddaughter, Tonya Yates, said. “Cocaine, crack, pills, people steal to get all those around here.”

Firefighters found the doors locked when they arrived. A gun was found near Joseph Yates’ body and deputies told the family the fire was set intentionally.

But his aunt, Vivian English, said it was hard to believe her nephew would kill 60-year-old June Yates.

“Lord, they loved each other,” English said. “They were together all the time. They say it was murder-suicide, but you never know that someone could have done it.”