Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Cathouse Murders

House on fire

At approximately 5:30 a.m. on Monday, November 9, 2009, Oklahoma City's 911 emergency dispatch center received a call reporting a house fire on the 1500 block of Southwest 56th Street. The caller, a neighbor down the street from the blaze, was calm as she described the scene to the 911 operator from her home.

Firefighters on roof of burning house
Firefighters on roof of burning house

"It's a house on fire," she said. "It's coming out of the roof...fire...all over the front porch and out the roof."

"Does anyone live there?" asked the operator.

"Uh, yeah, they do."

Within minutes, firefighters from the Oklahoma City Fire Department (OCFD) were on site attempting to extinguish the blaze that illuminated the early morning sky in that part of the city. Upon their arrival, firefighters made efforts to determine whether anyone was inside the burning single level brick house, and located one body which they managed to remove. Information about the fire was slow in coming at first, and was eventually coordinated through the Oklahoma City Police Department (OCPD).

After extinguishing the fire, which gutted much of the inside of the house as well as the roof, investigators located three additional bodies inside the residence. The bodies were taken to the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office where definitive autopsies were conducted on each. Local television reported the finding that three women and one man died in the fire. The fire remained under investigation for some time, but it was soon revealed that the fire had been deliberately set.

Remains of burned structure
Remains of burned structure

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