(WBIR-Greeneville) Greeneville police said officers are investigating a double homicide after someone killed an elderly woman and injured her nephew, and then set the house on fire to try and cover up the crime.
Roger Dewayne Aiken, 49, of Greeneville was still alive when a Greeneville police officer pulled him from the home he shared with his aunt on Sunday. But Tuesday afternoon, Aiken passed away from his injuries.
Firefighters found the body of his aunt Elizabeth Cooter, 78, inside the burning home on W. Main Street. Both Aiken and Cooter were hurt before the fire started, according to officials.
"We can rule out murder suicide. I've been asked that and we can rule that out, we're working it as a double homicide," said Captain David Crum, with the Greeneville Police Department. "Not sure in our preliminary investigation if they were targeted, but we're leaning in that direction."
Crum said authorities have collected evidence that they will hand off to the TBI. They're also interviewing and re-questioning possible suspects.
"We've had a lot of calls come in to the tip line with various names of associates, especially Mr. Aiken, who came and went their frequently so we've had a lot of participation."
Jessica Masters, a distant relative to both Aiken and Cooter, said she hopes the community continues to call in tips.
"Mrs. Elizabeth Cooter was my great aunt and Dewayne was my second cousin," said Masters. "Why? Why would you do that to an innocent, elderly woman who couldn't even get out of her own house? And to her nephew, trying to take care of her. Why would you harm them?"
Cooter said officers have been back to the scene numerous times and is confident they can track down the suspect or suspects.
"I know most of the cops and I know that they're trying their darnest to figure this out. Because you know this is a family oriented town. And it's not just two people that were effected, it's the whole town," said Masters.
State bomb and arson officials are also offering a reward up to $1,500 for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.
If you have any information about this case, you're asked to call Greeneville police at 423-783-2868.