Mystery of man believed to have died twice in fires a decade apart
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A house fire in Indiana is believed to have led to the death of a couple in 1980. The only problem is, husband Clarence Roberts had already been declared dead a decade earlier.
Roberts was 52-years-old in 1970, working as a businessman and living with his wife, Geneva.
That year, a fire broke out in the couple's garage. A body was discovered in the room, along with a melted shotgun.
The body had been badly burned in the fire, though there was no evidence of a gunshot wound. Instead, the cause of death was reported to be carbon monoxide poisoning.
Though the body was largely unregonizable after being exposed to the flames, Dr. John Pless, a forensic pathologist at Bloomington Hospital, concluded that Roberts was the victim.
Following the apparent death of her husband, Geneva sought to cash in on more than $1 million in insurance.
However, she found herself embroiled in a court battle after Former Brown County Coroner Earl Bond refused to sign a death certificate for Roberts.
Bond wasn't convinced the body had been correctly identified, and the lack of the death certificate meant the insurance companies refused to pay out.
Roberts sued the companies, but it was ultimately ruled that she'd failed to prove her husband was dead.
But if it wasn't Roberts in the fire, then who was it? And where was Roberts?
In the years following the 1970 fire, some witnesses claimed to have seen Roberts alive in different countries, but police were unable to confirm the reports.
The claim that the body in the garage didn't belong to Roberts became even more likely when, exactly a decade after the first, another fire broke out in the home.
This time, police recovered two bodies, including one belonging to Geneva, who was then 59.
The other was once again examined by Pless, who tentatively identified the body as Roberts.
With this new belief in mind, Pless pointed out he had much less evidence to go off when looking into the initial blaze.
When police investigated the 1980 fire, they found a liquid in both of the rooms where the bodies had been found, leading them to believe it had been purposefully set.
Both victims died of smoke inhalation.
However, more than 40 years on, the questions of when Roberts died, who the other body belonged to, and who may have been responsible for starting the second fire, remain a mystery.