Mobile home fire that killed 74-year-old Tulare woman now ruled a homicide

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- A mobile home fire that killed a 74-year-old woman in Tulare last week has now been ruled a homicide, and a suspect is in custody.

On January 20, a Tulare police officer was driving through the area of Pleasant and E Street across from Tulare Western High School.

The officer noticed a car with its doors and trunk open parked in the carport of the mobile home.

Police say the car looked as if it had been rummaged through. When the officer stopped to investigate, he noticed smoke coming from the home.

The officer tried to enter the home but was pushed back by the flames and smoke. Crews later found Carol Hendon dead inside.

"I couldn't quite -- I comprehended it but I couldn't quite process it. It just seemed unbelievable," said Betty Tilton, Carol Hendon's sister

The night after the fire, police were informed of a suspicious person. They came in contact with Anthony Lawrence Barra, and he was arrested on suspicion of burglary.

Police say Barra also had a gas can with him when he was arrested. He resisted officers but was ultimately booked into the Tulare County jail.

Detectives later found surveillance video they say showed Barra at the scene of the deadly house fire before the officer arrived. And on January 27, they say DNA evidence collected at the scene came back as a match for Barra.

"We have the video, forensic evidence -- that I won't mention what it is at his house -- but his DNA evidence confirming he was at the scene sealed the deal for us," said Sgt. Eddie Hinojosa of the Tulare Police Department.

Deputies believe Barra may also be linked to a series of dumpster fires in the week before Hendon was killed.

The Tulare County District Attorney's Office is now reviewing the case.

"It feels good to be able to go to the family and let them know that we've done everything we can to bring justice," said Hinojosa.

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