BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The son of a man found murdered inside his burning Battle Creek home was arrested in the case.
Firefighters found Randall Hurt, 61, dead on a couch Tuesday evening as flames ripped through his home on Laurel Drive near East Avenue.
Investigators believe Hurt was killed with a machete before the fire was set.
News 8 has learned police arrested Hurt’s 34-year-old son, who’s expected to be arraigned on the murder charge early next week. We are not using his name because he has not yet been officially charged. He’s currently lodged at the Calhoun County Jail.
Hurt’s body was found when the Battle Creek Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at Hurt’s two-story house on Laurel Drive between East and McKinley avenues around 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Neighbors said they saw flames coming from the front window and called 911. They knew Hurt was probably inside, but the flames were too intense for them to get in.
“My son was going to try to go through the front door. He went up there and knocked on, banged on the front door and yelled, hollered his (Hurt’s) name and he wasn’t responding,” neighbor John Good said.
By the time firefighters arrived, the fire had spread throughout the first floor. The worst of it was at the back, where the fire seemed to have started near the laundry room. Crews had the fire under control in about half an hour.
When they went into the house, the found Hurt on a couch near the front of the house. They took him out, but he was already dead.
Police said it soon became clear that Hurt had “multiple injuries” that didn’t come from the fire.
Records show Hurt’s son, the suspect, has a long criminal history dating back to 2008 that includes retail fraud, auto theft, weapons, assault, domestic violence and drug convictions.
“He’s been on meth for a long time,” longtime family friend Keith Welcher said of the suspect.
Welcher said he believes Hurt’s son was not in his right mind when the killing happened.
“I mean, they’re good people. It’s just drugs got the best … of them,” Welcher said.
Police say their investigation also led to the retrieval of a dog, which was not hurt and was taken to the shelter to be cared for.
The fire department said a firefighter received a foot injury while responding to the house fire. The firefighter was treated and will be OK.
—News 8’s Michael Oszust contributed to this report.