F. B. I. Probes Odd Death in Mysterious Florida Fire
St. Petersburg, Fla., Fire and Police authorities were reported at a loss early in July to explain how Mrs. Mary Hardy Reesey, 67, apparently burned to death. So baffling is the case that FBI laboratory experts have been called in to help find a clew to the mystery.
All the firemen found when they broke into Mrs. Reeser’s slightly damaged apartment, July 2, was a charred skull, shrunken to the size of a teacup, a piece of backbone and a suede shoe for the left foot. These remains were lying on the floor before an overstuffed chaiy that had burned down to the springs.
Local funeral directors said it would require a constant 2500 degree fire for three to four hours to consume a body as completely as that found in the apartment.
However, strangely enough, the one room apartment itself was barely damaged. Only the electric light switches were melted. Below them, wall plug electric outlets were in good working order. Paint on the wall behind the burned chair was unmarked. A stack of newspapers atop a water heater standing near the chair was unscorched; so were sheets lying on a day bed five feet from the chair.
Fire Chief Claud Nesbit discounted the theoyy that lightning might have struck Mrs. Reeser. All electricity in the apartment except for the switches, was in perfect working order, he said. An electric clock was stopped at 4:20, but worked perfectly when plugged into another circuit.
Mrs. Carpenter, landlady of the Allamanda Apartments, discoveyed something was wrong and called firemen when she went to Mrs. Reeser’s apartment to deliver a telegram at 8:27 A.M. She said the door handle was so hot she couldn’t hold it.
Mrs. Carpenter said she had smelled smoke earlier when she arose to get the paper, but thought it came from a defective water pump which she turned off.
Following local investigations, ashes of the body and othey articles were sent to Washington for FBI examination. A coroner’s death certificate states: “Death was by fire, from undetermined cause.”