Murder charges filed against son of woman found dead after Central Fresno house fire

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Prosecutors charged Winston Russell with murder and arson, accusing him of stabbing and killing his mother and then burning the house down. (KFSN)

Burnt books lay scattered on the ground behind the house where Beth Webster used to live. Long-time friends tell us while she led a secluded life her love for literature and her son shined through.

"One of the sweetest souls the world has ever been blessed with. She was caring, loved everything about nature and animals and tried to help people that she could," said Shaley, victim's friend.

Friends said Webster and her son were close and that 30-year-old Winston Russell was fiercely protective of his mother, but detectives and the District Attorney's Office found otherwise.

Prosecutors charged Russell with murder and arson, accusing him of stabbing and killing his mother and then burning the house down.

"I haven't discovered a motive, again it's still an active case and investigation," said Lt. Dave Madrigal, Fresno Police Department.

Friends said they are baffled too describing the Russell they knew as a gentle giant.

"I don't know what or how, how he could have ended up like this, because he was the sweetest little boy," said Shaley.

Shaley said while she's lost touch with Russell the last few years she's kept a butterfly pin he once gifted her and said she looked after him like her own son.

"I couldn't have been prouder to be his mom, the Winston that I knew-- he was a big boy, but was just the sweetest and just loved his mom and they would do things together and laugh together and play music together," said Shaley.

Friends said that her poetry and work is all they have left to hold onto as the case heads to court.

Related Topics:
murderhouse firefresnostabbingFresno - Central
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