A father whose two sons died in a fire this week was interviewed late Wednesday, Sheriff Garry Bush said, but how the fire started or whether it involved criminal activity won’t be known soon.
“That will probably be three to four weeks,” Bush said of a report on a potential cause from the Missouri Fire Marshal’s Office. “The fire marshal will determine that.”
A spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety said Wednesday that the sheriff’s department had requested to serve as the designated outlet for communicating findings from state and local investigations.
That had changed by Thursday morning, when a sheriff’s deputy said information duties had been passed on to Highway Patrol Spokesman Collin Strasberg.
Strasberg wasn’t immediately available for comment.
The fire’s cause is of special interest since the father, Randy Garrison, told several news outlets Tuesday evening that he wondered if arson might not be involved. The fire on Shach Creek Road, a rural location north of Orrick, destroyed his home and killed both his sons.
“Anytime there’s a death we do a police investigation,” the sheriff said.
Prosecutor Danielle Rogers also issued a statement late Wednesday, expressing “our deepest sympathies for the victims’ family” and noting she’d been assured “that there is currently an investigation being conducted in an effort to determine if there is probable cause that a crime has been committed.”
Rogers said she had yet to receive any official reports.
The fire took the lives of Garrison’s two sons, 3-year-old Roger Wayne and his younger brother, Ashton. The boys’ mother and Garrison’s girlfriend, Tamara Dawn Willis, was not home when Garrison said he awoke shortly after noon Tuesday to find a smoke- and flame-filled house with screams coming from the children’s room.
“I seen flames and heard screaming,” said Garrison, who’d returned home from work at around 6 a.m. from his job as a bail bondsman. He said his girlfriend and sons were on a couch in the living room when he arrived, and then he went on to bed.
An irony in the tragedy is that Garrison named his son Roger after a brother of his who’d died in childhood, also in a fire.
Garrison said he called 911, which put out a call to first responders at 12:20 p.m. about a house fire with people trapped inside.
Although initial news reports indicated the door to the boys’ bedroom might’ve been held shut by a bungee cord, Garrison clarified that Wednesday, saying he tripped on something that felt like a bungee.