Suspicious Walls house fire kills one, injures another

By Lori Brown - bio | email

WALLS, MS (WMC-TV) - A beloved North Mississippi neighborhood association president died and his wife was fighting for her life after a Saturday morning house fire that investigators said could be arson.

Burnt and melted blinds on the back of the house on Delta Lake Boulevard in Walls, Mississippi tell some of the mysterious story that left Alex Ward dead and his wife, Brenda Ward, in critical condition.

James Armstrong, a friend of the Wards, said his friend noticed something unusual about the house Friday.

"Friday, the back door was open but the screen door was closed," Armstrong said.  "He got up this morning, was going to barbecue and the door was like it was yesterday.  So, he went over there to investigate, and that's when he found the problem.

Armstrong said the body of Brenda Ward was laying on the floor.  She was still alive, but burned and unconscious.

Marium Rivera, a neighbor, captured a video of the scene that followed.

"Everyone was out here and they were taking the wife off ... in the helicopter," Rivera said.

DeSoto County's Chief Deputy said they do not want to call it a homicide investigation at this time, but said they do believe the fire was intentionally set.

Armstrong said he and Alex Ward planned to go to lunch together Friday.

"I called him Friday about three different time, he never answered the phone," Armstrong said.  "Normally he would call me back, but he never did call me back at all."

Neighbor Minda Griffin said Alex Ward was a fantastic neighbor.

"He brought people together," Ward said.  "He's going to be greatly missed by the whole entire neighborhood."

Helen Luster, a friend of Brenda Ward, described her as a beautiful person.

"A very loving and understanding person," Luster said.  "If you needed a favor, she was there for you."

Investigators left crime scene tape around the house that is now the center of many questions.

Family said the Ward's only son just graduated from high school and was on the Gulf Coast helping clean up the oil spill.

Brenda Ward is still in critical condition at The MED.

Investigators said they will not know Alex Ward's cause of death until an autopsy is completed.

Investigators said they do not believe an intruder was involved.

Sheriff's Deputies have been called to the house two other times for a domestic disturbance between the father and son.

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