FOX Files: Investigators believe people found dead in burned-out home, died after fire in north St. Louis County

FOX Files

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Police reported Tuesday that they were investigating human remains found in the basement of an abandoned Wellston home.

You could barely see the burned-out building through the trees and weeds on Page Avenue.

Neighbors say it didn’t keep out people going in to use drugs.

“You can see the traffic, they’re walking right up to the front door and it’s a burnt-out house.” She added, “We’ve got several problem houses like that in Wellston,” Sharon Owens said.

“Tuesday morning around 4 a.m. we received an anonymous tip that there were human bones in a vacant structure,” said Maj. Ron Martin with the North County Police Cooperative.

Martin said the bones were in the basement. Investigators could not safely get onto the home until an excavator knocked down walls that were ready to fall. A nonprofit group called Equity Homes worked with investigators to clear hazards and allow for the safe recovery of the remains.

Martin said they do not believe the two people died in the fire, which occurred about two years ago. He said that’s “because there was no char or anything on the bones. Some of the remains still had clothing on them.”

He added, “Further reports and analysis is going to be done by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office. Their anthropologist will do what it is they do and in essence, it’s still an ongoing investigation, but preliminary we do not believe this is anything criminal.”

He said at least four other agencies were involved with his police department – fire, bomb & arson, The St. Louis County Medical Examiner’s Office, and the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office.

“You want to make sure every avenue is visited, and every scenario is visited and that’s why we had so many resources out here,” Martin added.

None of this would be happening without the anonymous tip.

“Bless them. Somebody that actually cared enough about the community, as well as the two passing men that they found,” Owens said.

Owens was not only thankful for that tip, but also for what she watched unfold after the human remains were removed. Investigators did not just call for one portion of the burned-out home to be cleared for their safety, but they also asked for the remaining walls to be cleared.

Those remaining walls appeared to be ready to collapse on someone else.

“I’m amazed on how this happened so quick including tearing this down so quick. We’ve got numerous vacant houses here in Wellston that are under the same problem,” Owens said.

When the home came down, she said, “I’m elated, and I know a lot of people around here are too. We just need to work on getting some of these other houses down.”

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