A bizarre and tragic story keeps getting stranger. An Omaha man arrested Thursday for murder and arson apparently tried to block the exits of the burning home.
When a 911 emergency call goes out, first responders usually know from the start what they might find. This emergency began as a fire call, then quickly became an assault investigation.
Thirty-year-old Terrance Hale remains in the Douglas County Jail, booked for murder, arson and burglary. He’s due in court Monday. Meanwhile, investigators are trying to piece together a motive and it just doesn't make much sense.
Seventy-six-year-old Elizabeth and 83-year-old Raymond Vasholz are known to family and friends as Betty and Bob. They got married in Florence and have lived in the same home at 33rd and Martin for decades.
Bob died hours after being hospitalized and Betty remains in critical condition at the Saint Elizabeth Burn Center in Lincoln. She suffered severe burns to 35 percent of her body and took in plenty of smoke, too.
“My gosh, that could have been my house on fire." Dennis Stolz lives two houses down. He still cannot believe that someone tried to burn down the home of his friends and good neighbors while they were inside. “I got a call and they said their house is on fire and she is in the yard and I said what? You have to be kidding me. No."
Detectives hope Elizabeth is strong enough that she can share some of the details with them. Here's a working theory investigators have shared. They believe the suspect broke into the home, assaulted the couple with his fists and as he left he barricaded the doors to keep anyone from getting out and set the place on fire. A key will be to talk with Elizabeth, the lone survivor.
Another neighbor tells Channel 6 News that Betty pointed out Hale to investigators as she sat in the yard badly burned. Perhaps that will help investigators piece together something that makes very little sense. “I know a lot of people have said they're going to move, but that doesn't change a thing. It's still going to be there whether you move, it can happen anywhere."
A fund has been set up at any American National Bank to help the family with medical and funeral expenses. Donations may be made to the Vasholz Family Fund.