Gunshots killed Western Kentucky couple found with children in fire

Investigators worked outside a home near MurrayWednesday where two adults and two children were found dead in the ashes of a suspicious fire the night before.
Investigators worked outside a home near MurrayWednesday where two adults and two children were found dead in the ashes of a suspicious fire the night before. AP

The deaths of a family of four in Calloway County have been attributed to homicide, according to preliminary autopsy results released by Coroner Rick Harris.

Bulmaro Arellano, 29, Marisol Hernandez-Arellano, 23, and their two children, Miguel Hernandez-Arellano, 5, and Marisol Hernandez-Arellano, 18 months, were found Tuesday night after a suspicious house fire one-mile south of Murray on Ky. 121.

The autopsy reportedly found Bulmaro died of multiple gunshots to the head and body, and 23-year-old Marisol died of a single gunshot wound to the face. The cause of death for each child is listed as "pending additional study," although state police said late Thursday that smoke inhalation was their probable cause of death.

The investigation continues.

The family's landlord Edwina Key, whose family owns the lot, the buildings there and Key Auto Parts, has been trying to make sense of what happened.

"I don't know what to think," she said. "They were just super people; always smiling and never having a negative thing to say to or about anybody."

Key said she got a call about the fire around 9:45 that night from a neighbor who was listening to a scanner.

"He said, 'The house that y'all own is on fire,'" she recalled. As Key made her way to the scene, she said her thoughts raced.

"I was hoping that it didn't really happen," she said. "I remember thinking that the house was old and I was thinking that there shouldn't have been any heat on because it hadn't been that cold out. Things just kept running through my head - did the house explode, did something happen, were people hurt - because at that point in time all I knew was that there was a fire."

When she arrived, the scene was chaotic.

"It was covered up with emergency vehicles and law enforcement," she said. "It was amazing how many people had gotten there so fast."

While watching from the sidelines, Key said she started talking to a group of college students, who told her they had called 911.

"They were just passing by and one of them said 'that house is on fire,' so they turned around and realized it really was on fire and called 911."

It was hours before Key said she learned police believed the fire was set and that all four family members had died.

"That of course brought a lot of concerns up," she said. "I didn't know what to think. I just started running through scenario in my head: maybe a burglary went bad, maybe this, maybe that. You know, I just didn't know."

Key said the family had been living in the rental house about two years and they were some of the best renters she had. Bulmaro worked for a family-owned landscaping business, but he and his brother had planned to strike out on their own in the new year, she said. Marisol had worked at a local restaurant for a while, but had recently asked Key if she knew of any job openings.

The couple, Key said, married over the summer.

"We went to their wedding," she said. "They were excited about getting married. (Marisol) came over here and showed me her engagement ring."

Key said she didn't know the family well, describing her relationship with them as "friendly" and "neighborly."

"This couple was very family oriented," she said. "As far as I know, they have never had any trouble. I have never seen anything out of the ordinary. I would drive by on the weekends and they were usually sitting outside having a picnic at the picnic table out there, hanging out."

Key's family has owned the house for several years. Originally a three-bedroom, the family had done some work on it in recent years, removing a wall to make two larger bedrooms.

Although she hasn't been inside the house since the fire, Key said she is sure the structure is "totaled."

"From what I've seen it looks like the main damage was done in the living room and maybe the dining room, but I haven't really gotten that close to the house to know for sure," she said.

Regardless of whether the home is salvageable, Key said she hopes she and her family members can agree to have it demolished.

"I work here every day, we have a family business, and I just don't want to pull into the driveway every morning and look at that knowing what has happened," she said.

Since the fire, Key said one question continues to run through her mind: why?

"It's been really emotional," she said.

"I just keep asking why? The kind of people they were, why would anybody have any reason to do this to them? They've never had a cross word with anybody, I've never seen anything of them that would give anybody a reason to even be mad at them. For something this extreme, what's the reason?"