Update: Fire, Assault Victim Dies, Wife Critical

By: Gary Smollen, Brian Mastre Email
By: Gary Smollen, Brian Mastre Email

One of the victims of a fire and assault at their Omaha home Thursday morning has died. Raymond Vasholz was 83.

Crews called to 33rd and Martin just after 9 a.m. found a house on fire. The residents were Vasholz and his 76-year-old wife Elizabeth. She was found in the yard and Raymond was found inside the house. Elizabeth was in critical but stable condition at Saint Elizabeth Burn Center in Lincoln.

Police arrested a neighbor, 30-year-old Terrance Hale, for first-degree murder, first-degree arson and burglary. A court appearance is scheduled for Friday.

Raymond and Elizabeth Vasholz knew the Florence neighborhood well. They married in 1954 at Mount Olive Lutheran -- a few blocks from where they lived.

Someone had broke into the home and set it on fire -- investigators believe.

"I can't put it into words. It's unbelievable," said Joel Nickerson who lives next door to them. "Why? Why? An elderly couple minding their own business -- what could they possibly have that you would want."

It didn't take long to make an arrest. The suspect was still around when investigators arrived -- and had called his mother.

"On my way home from the doctor, Terrance called me frantic," said his mother Dawn Reed, "Telling me something had happened and we need to come home. I heard the word fire and thought my house was on fire."

This incident and a recent burglary at her home is prompting one woman to move her family. "My kids don't feel safe, I'm a single mom, it's time to go," said Sheila Warner. "When we have to put everything that we own and lock it up at my mom's house while I'm at work every day, it's time to go."

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