Post-mortem indicates that he was killed by flames
A post-mortem conducted on the charred remains of Michael Reynolds, 33, of Sister Benedict Street, of the Antelope Street Extension area, certified the cause of his death as “asphyxia by mechanical aspiration due to third degree burns by dry heat.”
The autopsy was conducted by Doctor Mario Estrada Bran, police coroner, on Friday at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital.
Police reports are that at about 2:26 a.m. on Friday, the charred remains of Reynolds were recovered from the floor of his house, a plywood structure measuring 20 feet by 14 feet and elevated approximately 3 feet off the ground, which was completely destroyed by fire.
Police said that a white Isuzu double cab pickup truck with license plates CYB -1559, which was parked in front of the structure, was also damaged by fire.
At about 3:50 a.m., firemen succeeded in putting out the fire, and it was then that they discovered that there was a burnt body lying on the floor. The body was later identified to be that of Reynolds, the owner and resident of the house, who was a driver for the Human Development Department in Belize City.
Inspector Calbert Flowers, the Deputy Commander of Precinct 2, said that “there was no evidence to suggest foul play”, and they “have no evidence to suggest that Reynolds was murdered.”
Beresford Matura, Operations Officer of the Belize Fire Department, told the media that Reynolds usually parked the government vehicle he drives in their compound and would go home in his private vehicle.
However, from time to time, because he worked in rural areas, when he arrived in the city late at night he would keep the vehicle at his house, Matura stated. He speculated that Reynolds returned from out-district work late Friday night and drove home with the vehicle, parking it in front of his house.
Neighbors in the area confirmed this, and told Amandala that Reynolds arrived home about 1:30 a.m., and at about 2: 00 a.m., his home erupted in flames. They did not hear screams for help, or any sound coming from the house, so they were of the belief that he had gone out again and was not at home.
They tried to break down the door to enter the house, but the searing heat of the raging fire prevented them, the neighbors said.
Matura said that the exact cause of the fire is still unknown and is under investigation. It is believed that the fire started in the hallway of the living room.
Reynolds was the father of two children, but he lived alone in the house at the time.
It has been theorized that Reynolds may have been tortured and killed in his house, and it was set on fire to cover his murder. His neighbors strongly disagree, however, because Reynolds, they said, was well-liked and had no known enemies. They speculate that he might have gone home drunk and may have lit a candle, which fell, causing the fire, but he was not able to help himself because he was intoxicated. They base this opinion on the short interval between the time when he came home, and the point at which the house caught fire.
Police have declared the matter as a “sudden death.”