NORTHFIELD CENTER, Ohio – Investigators with the State Fire Marshal’s office, the Summit County Medical Examiner’s Office and the Summit County Sheriff’s office continue working to determine who intentionally set fire to a home in which the bodies of four family members were found.
Neighbors reported hearing an explosion at the Skyhaven Road home of Jeffrey and Cynthia Mather about 8:30pm Monday. Within minutes the entire home was engulfed in flames.
Investigators on Wednesday ruled the fire an arson, but as of Thursday say they still do not have enough evidence to say who might have started the fire or why.
Summit County Sheriff’s Office Inspector Bill Holland confirms that a gas can was found near the body of Jeffrey Mather, which Fire Chief Frank Risko earlier told Fox 8 News was discovered on the first floor near the patio doors.
The Medical Examiner’s notes also say it is possible that Cynthia Mather and the couple’s two daughters, ages 8 and 12, may have been on the second floor of the house when the fire started and fell through when the floor gave way.
The report says there was never any sign of domestic problems, never a hint of family trouble. The couple was very active in their church and admired by those who knew them.
But the medical examiner’s report does say that Jeffrey was having trouble at work following a job change at the first of the year.
The report also says Jeffrey Mather reported hearing “dark voices” when he went to the Rocky River Metroparks in early December with a hunting rifle and told someone there he needed help.
That would be a pretty long leap, just because someone has a history of a suicide just that fact could not link them to being responsible for four deaths that would be a pretty long leap that we would not make,” said Holland.
The medical examiner’s notes do not make any mention of any kind regarding a firearm in the investigation of Monday’s tragic fire.
“Obviously the family dynamics is one angle that we are looking into as part of our investigation in doing so we are conducting interviews with you know people from the community people from the family, that is part of our investigation,” said Holland.
Investigators say they are exploring every possible explanation for the four deaths and have not ruled out any possibility.
For each of the victims, the medical examiner’s preliminary report cautiously notes the possibility of a suicide/homicide.
Although there are no other possible explanations mentioned in the report investigators caution there is a lot of work left for them to do adding it is dangerous for anyone to jump to any conclusions and they want to get it right. “There's several scenarios that could play out here that is why I guess there is all this speculation. Did someone intentionally set the fire? Yes that has been confirmed. Was the intent of that person to cause harm to these people or were they just in the residence at the time of the fire? These are all things that we are investigating.” Said Holland.
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