Investigators identify man found dead in burning home south of Lawrence; homicide suspected

A crew works Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, on the porch of a house at 1104 East 1200 Road where the body of 34-year-old Joel Wales, of Eudora, was found Friday, Nov. 3, 2017, when firefighters and the Douglas County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a fire and gunshots. The sheriff's office is investigating the incident as a homicide.

The death of a man whose body was found Friday night in a burning home south of Lawrence is being investigated as a homicide, the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office said Monday.

Emergency responders found the body of 34-year-old Joel Wales, of Eudora, after extinguishing a house fire on East 1200 Road, Sgt. Kristen Channel said in a news release. No one else was located inside the residence, Channel said.

The house at 1104 East 1200 Road, where investigators were working, is owned by Gary Athey, according to Douglas County property records.

Deputies were originally dispatched to the scene shortly after 9 p.m. Friday after receiving reports of a fire and gunshots in the area, Channel said.

The cause of Wales’ death and the cause of the fire had not been determined as of Saturday, and the Sheriff’s Office did not provide an update Monday, citing the active investigation.

Several neighbors in the area told the Journal-World on Monday that they were aware of the incident but declined to discuss it.

The Sheriff’s Office is asking anyone with information about the incident to contact its office at 785-843-0250 or Crime Stoppers at 785-843-8477.

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