Sheriff: Murder suspect, victim fathered children with same woman
EUGENE, Ore. - A man found dead after a house fire suffered external injuries before the house was intenionally set ablaze, sheriff's office investigators said Friday.
Investigators also said the victim and his accused killer both had children by the same woman, who days earlier was arrested after a domestic dispute with the man found dead in the home.
"When the fire department personnel first got on the scene and removed the body from the house, they could tell there were some injuries that weren't consistent simply related to the fire," said Sergeant Cliff Harrold.
The woman, Shawna Schmidt, rented the River Road home and lived there with Moji Silas Tholl, 51, with whom she had a child.
Tholl was found dead after firefighters responded to a fire at the home Tuesday afternoon.
Deputies arrested Robert Charles Baimbridge, 41, of Springfield on charges of murder and arson, accusing him of killing Tholl and setting the house on fire.
Baimbridge also had a child with Schmidt, the sheriff's office said.
Schmidt had been arrested on charges of fourth degree assault, menacing and strangulation after a domestic altercation at the home between her and Tholl on Sept. 28, according to the sheriff's office.
"Mr. Tholl was residing at that residence with Shawna Schmidt when the arrest happened on September 28th. He continued to reside there. She was taken to jail, and released, and not allowed to go back there," said Sgt. Harrold.
She was out of jail on electronic monitoring with a GPS bracelet at the time of the fire, the sheriff's office told KVAL News, and was barred from being at the house.
The investigation began Tuesday as a fire-related death but quickly turned to a suspicious death and suspected arson investigation, the sheriff's office said.
Neighbors reported seeing flames shooting out of the upper windows of the home.
Investigators cordoned off the scene in crime tape and worked through the night at the scene gathering evidence.
Witnesses saw flames, heard screams
"I heard a lady screaming," neighbor Sean Curran said. "So I came running around the corner, and there was smoke coming out of the house."
Curran said he joined other passersby in running around the house, knocking on the walls, in an attempt to alert anyone still inside.
He said he saw windows broken out and could hear water running in the basement. One of the walls of the house was visibly charred and hot to the touch, he said.
"You kind of act on instict and you don't know how you're going to help and what to do," Curran said. "At the same time you know it's dangerous and you can't run in the house. It's just not good news."
Neighbor Jackie Harmon said the people who lived in the home kept to themselves.
"I know of a man and woman that were always around, and at least three kids," Harmon told KVAL News. "But there were always others in and out. We really don't know who exactly lived there."
Harmon said she often heard loud fighting coming from the home.
"The couple that lived upstairs tended to fight kind of loud," she said.