HOUSTON – A 69-year-old woman whose body was found after a fire at a southeast Houston home was dead before the blaze started, investigators say, and now a 37-year-old man is charged with her murder.
Brandon Ray Morgan was arrested Friday in connection with the death of Jeannie Waynette Wiebke.
Wiebke’s badly burned body was found in the charred remains of her home in the early morning hours of May 3, 2012.
Initial reports from the scene indicated that oxygen tanks in the home might have accidentally caused the fire. But now, police say Wiebke was beaten and strangled prior to the fire, and the killer used the oxygen to set the house ablaze in a bid to cover up the crime.
According to court documents, Morgan – the boyfriend of Wiebke’s primary caretaker – told investigators he’d been staying at the home to help look after the victim, who’d recently been released from the hospital. On the night of the fire, Morgan said he was asleep in a recliner next to a couch where the victim was sitting. He said he woke up to find the home completely filled with smoke. He said he did not remember how he got out of the house, but that he wasn’t sure at the time if the victim had escaped.
But investigators said the victim’s body was right next to where Morgan said he was sleeping, and he would have had to go past it to get to the door.
After interviewing multiple witnesses, police determined that Morgan was their suspect, and he was arrested without incident on July 20.
Investigators have not determined a motive for the murder.