Fire, apparent burglary lead to arson investigation

An arson investigation is under way after homeowners on Pepperhill Road found that their house had been burglarized before catching fire Thursday night.

The fire was reported at 8:50 p.m. at 3278 Pepperhill Road, near Julius Marks Elementary School.

Homeowner Richard Murphy said he and his wife, Patricia, returned from church to find their home full of smoke. They called 911, and firefighters extinguished the fire, which was confined to a bedroom, Lexington fire Battalion Chief Marshall Griggs said.

Later, they discovered items were missing.

Battalion Chief Harold Hoskins said Thursday that the fire appeared to have started near a paper shredder that the family had used before leaving. They were gone for about three hours, he said.

The home was damaged by fire and smoke.

One of the residents was treated for smoke inhalation on the scene but was not seriously hurt.

No other injuries were reported.

Just after midnight, when the homeowners were allowed back inside, they found "evidence" that the home had been burglarized while they were out, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

According to a police report, "various items" were missing, including money and jewelry.

"While inside, subjects intentionally set a fire ... causing severe damage," the report said.

The origin of the fire was not available Friday. Griggs said arson investigators are looking into the fire, and police are investigating the burglary.

Anyone with information is asked to call Lexington police at (859) 258-3600.