House Fire Kills Biloxi Woman

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A burned house in north Biloxi is being considered a murder scene. Just after 9:00 Tuesday morning, two dozen Biloxi firefighters rushed to Timber Ridge Lane. They found a house engulfed in flames, and a woman's body in the master bedroom.

The body was so badly burned, investigators thought they might need dental records to determine the fire victim's identity. But by Tuesday evening, Harrison County's coroner announced that 38-year-old Michelle Craite died in the mid-morning fire.

Her stunned sister didn't have to wait for the records. At the scene Tuesday morning, she had a horrible feeling her sister was dead.

Sky Hall was with her boyfriend when word spread her sister's house was engulfed in flames.

"He came home and he was like, 'Sky get up,'" the 16-year-old remembered. "I was like, 'Why?' And he's like, 'Michelle's house is on fire.' And I'm like, 'What the hell are you talking about?' So got out of bed, got dressed, and raced over here as fast as I could."

One friend already at the scene said he got text messages from the homeowner on Monday night. Just hours later, her home on Timber Ridge Lane was on fire, and she was missing.

"I basically feel like I've lost everything because she's my only family left," Hall said.

For nearly three hours, hosemen doused hotspots near the bedroom where the body was spotted. When that area was cool enough, investigators dug out debris and began searching for the cause of this fire. A Biloxi detective says nothing suspicious was found in the rubble. However, the death would still be investigated like a murder until something could be proven.

"This time of day, somebody home like this. It raises suspicions," Chief Roberts said. "But we don't know that there was any kind of murder or anything like that yet."

Away from the fire scene, authorities searched for a man who may have been staying at the house in recent days. They hoped he could answer several questions about how this fire started.

Sky Hall had only one question. Why couldn't her sister escape?

"I'm kind of like numb right now. I'm just really upset because I don't know what happened," said Hall.