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Thursday, Apr. 17, 2014

Arson suspected in house fire

Friday, November 9, 2007

Brooke Ninemire

Staff Writer

Perhaps is was a freak accident, but authorities suspect it was a Halloween prank gone too far.

During the early morning hours of Oct. 29 a fire destroyed the house that held generations worth of Hodges' family memories.

Some church friends delivered the news to Lena (Hodges) Barker. While on their way to Sunday services the friends had passed the charred remains of the house located along Coral Road in Elizabeth. "It was such a shock to me, and my brother is especially upset," Barker said.

Barker said the house and property, which is officially owned by her brother, James Hodges of Independence, Mo., had been in the Hodges family for over 100 years.

Though Barker said she was unsure of exactly how long the property had been in her family, she estimated her grandparents purchased the home just before the turn of the century.

After living in the home and watching his family grow, Barker's grandfather, William Hodges, made an addition to the home. He built an upper level, adding two new rooms before his death in 1919, Barker said.

After Barker's grandmother passed in 1939, she and her nine siblings moved into the home with her parents Robert and Trudy Hodges. "I spent much of my childhood here. We lived here after my grandma died," Barker said. "I had lots of memories here."

After learning the house was destroyed, Barker and her husband W.O. Barker contacted the Fulton County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Terry Walker came to the site and examined the area around the destroyed home, W.O. said. "(Authorities) think it started around 3 in the morning. There was an old tire on the front porch that (Walker) thought maybe someone started the fire with," W.O. said. He also said authorities suggested that individuals might have been cooking meth in the house which had been vacant for about 20 years.

Barker said despite having been empty for some time, the house was in good shape. "That house was something important to all of us (the Hodges family). We planned on restoring it. For as old as it was, it wasn't in that bad of a shape; it could've been restored," she said.

Barker said her brother is offering a $1,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the fire. "We really want this made right," Barker said.

"The important thing is to stop it from ever happening again," W.O. said. "We wish they'd find out, because if there really is someone who didn't care (to set the house on fire), they surely won't care to do it again."

Anyone with information can contact the Fulton County Sheriff's Office at 895-2601.

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