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Man charged with murder after mother found dead in fire

By Elizabeth Bynum
Published On: Aug 20 2014 12:49:09 PM CDT
Updated On: Aug 20 2014 06:54:23 PM CDT
BEAUFORT COUNTY -

A man is accused of murdering his 62-year-old mother, who was found dead after a mobile home fire in Beaufort County over the weekend.

According to the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, 38-year-old Herbert Wood Heath Jr., of Washington, was arrested on Tuesday at the Days Inn in Washington. He is charged with an open count of murder in the death of 62-year-old Mildred Hawkins Heath, who family friends say is the suspect's mother.

Mildred Heath was found dead inside her home at 5658 Cherry Run Rd., about 11 miles northwest of Washington, on Saturday.

Beaufort County Fire Marshal Curtis Avery said the mobile home caught fire at about 3 a.m. Saturday. The home was completely engulfed in flames by the time crews arrived, said Avery.

After extinguishing the fire, crews entered the home and found Mildred Heath dead inside, said the Sheriff's Office. An autopsy was conducted, but her exact cause of death has not been released.

Investigators said the victim's son left the home prior to the start of the fire.

Herbert Heath is being held in the Beaufort County Detention Center under no bond. The Sheriff's Office said the investigation is ongoing and more charges against the suspect are expected.

Barbara Chauncey, Mildred Heath's neighbor and friend, said she wasn't surprised to hear about Herbert Heath's arrest.

"I happened to see her son in the yard and said, 'Are you okay? Then I said, 'Where's your mom?' That was really stopped at that," recalled Chauncey.

Chauncey said Herbert Heath then yelled profanities at her.

Chauncey told NewsChannel 12 in a previous interview she had known Mildred Heath for a long time.

"We all went to Bible school together and we all grew up together. It had to have been probably 50 or 55 years ago," Chauncey said. "She was wonderful. You couldn't ask for anybody better," Chauncey said.