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Homicide being investigated in suspicious east side fire

TUCSON – The mysterious fire that occurred at an east side home mid-April was ruled as arson Tuesday, according to Tucson Police Department.

Tucson Fire Department responded to a house fire in the 3500 block of South Calexico Avenue on April 16. TFD said the fire caused a large section of the house’s roof to collapse into the structure.

At the time of the initial investigation, the owner of the home could not be located.

Tucson Fire Department responded to a home in 3500 block of S. Calexico Avenue on Tuesday, April 16, 2019. Courtesy: Tucson Fire Department

On Tuesday, TPD revealed a vehicle was missing from the home. After further investigation, Pima County Sheriff’s Department located the vehicle and suspected foul play.

The owner of the vehicle was identified as Frank Bligh.

Frank Bligh/ Tucson Police Department

The 72-year-old is currently missing and presumed dead.

TPD has since labeled the fire as arson. The department also said a homicide is being investigated in reference to the incident.

An arrest has been made in connection to the incident. TPD located Brent Mallard in Maricopa County and took him into custody on charges including arson, second-degree burglary and felony criminal damages.

He is currently being extradited to Pima County.

Brent Mallard, Susan Barksdale and Blane Barksdale/ Tucson Police Department

Mallard’s uncle and aunt are sought in connection to the case. Police say Blane and Susan Barksdale are wanted for first-degree murder.

Anyone with information is advised to call 911 or 88-CRIME.

This is a developing story.

EDITOR’S NOTE: News 4 Tucson’s Lupita Murillo contributed to this report.

Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes

Anthony Victor Reyes is the lead digital content producer at News 4 Tucson. The award-winning journalist previously worked as a community reporter in Jasper County, Iowa.
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