Detectives ask for community’s help to solve the case of house fire victims who were shot to death

Terry Lagrone (Allen County Sheriff's Department)
Terry Lagrone (Allen County Sheriff's Department)

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Detectives are still investigating the Senate Avenue house fire where two victims were found shot to death exactly a week ago and they’re asking for the community’s help to catch the criminals.

Terry Lee LaGrone, 40, and Desiree Sheets,19, were found dead inside the home on Thursday, July 18. Their slayings were not random acts of violence. The two victims were targeted, according to police. The coroner said they both died of gunshot wounds and ruled the deaths homicides.

A week later, police told NewsChannel 15 that they are still following leads, but need new ones to come in. Officers got a lot of information at the scene from family and friends of the victims and took the surveillance cameras from the outside of the house. The cameras are now being processed to see if new evidence will be brought to light.

Even though the perpetrators set the house on fire in an attempt to destroy evidence in the shootings, Raquel Foster, a spokesperson for the Fort Wayne Police Department, said investigators were still able to gather some evidence from inside the home.

What is frustrating for detectives is the lack of tips from the community. Foster said it is unusual to get very few calls with information about possible suspects after a homicide.

“That’s troubling,” she said. “We know the streets talk. We know there are individuals out there that have that information and we need that information.”

The level of violence is also unusual and that could be contributing to the lack of tips.

“The perpetrators were in no rush to leave that home. They took their time to set the home ablaze. It tells us something about the perpetrators themselves. It gives us an indication of what type of reputation they may have in the community, how dangerous they may be, how intimidating they can be, their propensity for violence, the level of violence that they’re willing to do to destroy evidence. These are very dangerous individuals. This is considered up close and personal. This is very important to us,” Foster said.

People will withhold information for three main reasons: they are afraid of the suspects, they don’t want to get involved or they don’t want to be perceived as a “snitch.” Foster said there were no signs of forced entry, so the victims were either expecting someone or knew the perpetrators. It’s likely someone else also knows who committed this crime.

“We know there’s talk on the streets. We’re simply asking that it be shared with us,” she said.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at (260) 436-STOP . Tips can be left anonymously.

Two found in house fire

The Fort Wayne Fire Department (FWFD) was called to the fire around 8:45 a.m. on Thursday, July 18 and were on scene by 8:50 a.m. When the Fort Wayne Fire Department arrived, flames could be seen at the doors and on the sides of the house.

Photos: Fatal house fire on Senate Avenue

The first victim was found as crews began to fight the fire and the second as they continued to work on the flames. Crews also found a dog that died in the fire.

Officials say crews had the fire under control by 9:15 a.m.

Investigators with the Fort Wayne Fire Department, Fort Wayne Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Allen County Coroner’s Office are involved in the investigation into the incident.

An ATF spokesperson told NewsChannel 15 that his office was called in to assist in the fire investigation.  He added that his office has a certified fire investigator at the scene to help FWFD officials determine the cause, origin, and if arson took place.

A FWFD spokesperson said the investigation into the fire and two deaths was being handled the same way any fatal fire would be treated.

Before any official release, dozens of family and neighbors called the incident suspicious.

“I know he’s the type of person who would have got out of the house.  I know that,” said neighbor Letrice Lewis.  “I’m very suspicious.”

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