The Thursday morning deaths of a Columbus mother and her infant son were declared homicides at their Winifred Lane home after an autopsy was completed in Atlanta, Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan said Friday.
No exact cause is available in the deaths of Rosella “Rose” Mitchell, 32, and her 6-month-old son, Dylan Conner, said Muscogee County Coroner Buddy Bryan. Their bodies were found “burned beyond recognition” when they were pulled from a fire at 1324 Winifred Lane. The coroner pronounced them dead at 1:30 a.m.
The coroner said the child also was listed as homicide after it was determined the child's mother and caregiver of the child was a victim. In addition to finding a cause of death, Bryan said the crime lab also wants DNA and other evidence to help positively identify Mitchell.
Columbus Fire & Emergency Medical Services were called to the home around 12:35 a.m., after a neighbor reported the fire, said Fire Marshal Ricky Shores. Firefighters forced entry into the burning home and found both bodies face down in a back bedroom.
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Columbus police detectives were sifting through the charred home at 6 p.m. and searching the grounds outside for clues in the fire.
“Nothing has been ruled out,” Police Sgt. Daniel Lyon said. “We never rule out anything.”
Investigators believe the fire started in the back of the home, Deputy Fire Chief Greg Lang said at a Thursday news conference. He said there was no one else in the house at the time of the fire.
Fire investigators, Columbus police and agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were all at the scene Thursday. Lang said that the ATF agents could be a “big help” with the investigation.
Sorting through the information collected by these multiple agencies will take “a couple of days,” he said. Investigators will first work to establish where and how the fire began.
With 18 firefighters on the scene, the fire was extinguished in minutes, Shores said. The home suffered about $30,000 in property damage, Lang said.
There have been five fire-related deaths this year in Muscogee County, Bryan said.