NEWTON, NC (FOX 46 WJZY) - A Marine was shot to death and left to burn inside his house. The Catawba County Sheriff's Office says Saturday’s fatal fire is now being investigated as a homicide.
Lennon Riley Henderson, 16, is charged with murder in connection to the crime, according to the Sheriff's Office.
A tattered American flag keeps vigil outside the veteran's home. It's a somber scene. Charred walls. Melted furniture. Silent, but for the hum of passing cars and light rain. Nothing like Saturday morning.
"We woke up to what we thought was our neighbor shooting his guns in his backyard," said Dina Huffman.
It was 6:30 a.m. Just before sunrise.
"When we looked out we realized it was the fire we were hearing the popping sounds," Huffman said.
Dina Huffman and her husband live right next door.
"We prayed that he wasn't home, but being so early in the morning we feared the worst," Huffman said.
First responders found the homeowner inside. Dina said he was a Marine; disabled, so he didn't work. His brutal death still shocks her.
"It was just scary and with today's update, even scarier," Huffman said.
The Catawba County Sheriff said Wes Bruner, 40, was shot to death before the house went up in flames. No guns were found inside. No cash either. The sheriff said robbery could be a possible motive.
"It's pretty scary to have this in your neighborhood and we'll be praying for Wes' family," Huffman said.
FOX 46 Charlotte reached out to Wes' family to offer our condolences. Wes' friends posting messages like 'rest in peace' on his Facebook page.
Henderson is currently being held without bond at the Catawba County Jail. He's due in court again on August 28 for a probably cause hearing.