DNA testing has revealed the identity of the man found dead inside a burning garage in Howell County last Weekend.
Howell County sheriff, Robbie Crites, says that it was 22 year-old Ricky J. Johnson, of Pottersville. Crites says, "We had a pretty good idea of who it was shortly after the fire, however, it was impossible to confirm without DNA. We contacted family members, obtained DNA samples and the crime lab was able to rush the testing and confirm the victim was Mr. Johnson. We are doing everything in our power to find out exactly what happened."
A call came into 911 about 7:45 Saturday morning from a driver who wanted to report a structure fire at 4580 County Road 6420, just west of West Plains. Once the blaze was put out, firefighters discovered the mans body inside a car he had recently purchased.
Sources close to the investigation tell me that four people were taken into custody today for questioning in connection with Johnson's death. Two have been released, while the other two remain in the county jail. There could be warrants issued for their arrest tomorrow; they could be facing charges on some unrelated crimes as well.
Investigators have not ruled out foul play in Johnson's death and are awaiting toxicology reports to determine if he was dead before the fire started.
The ongoing investigation is being conducted by the Howell County Sheriff’s Office criminal investigations division; the Missouri State Fire Marshal’s Office; and the Missouri State Highway Patrol - Division of Drug and Crime Control.
Anyone with information concerning this investigation is asked to call the sheriff’s office at 417-256-2544.
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