Arrest made in fire that killed Tallulah man

Published 1:00 am Saturday, November 5, 2011

A Tallulah woman faces charges of first degree murder and aggravated arson in an early morning house fire that killed a Tallulah man, said the Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office.

State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said Shurna Gray, 51, is accused of starting the fire at 712 Holt St. that killed Johnny Hopkins, 42. He said Madison Parish deputies arrested her Friday, and she was being held without bond at the Madison Parish Jail.

The arrest is the result of an investigation by the fire marshal’s office, Madison Parish Sheriff’s Office and the Tallulah Police Department.

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Sheriff’s investigator Neal Horath said firefighters found Hopkins’ body after the fire was under control. One other person was in the home at the time of the fire and escaped without injury, the fire marshal’s office said but did not give an identity.

Tallulah firefighters and Madison Parish deputies responded to the fire.

While they were fighting the fire, a neighbor told them the home was occupied, Horath said.

Deputy Coroner Ray Thornton, who also is a Tallulah fireman and had responded to the 3:25 a.m. fire, pronounced Hopkins dead at the scene.

He said it was not clear if Hopkins was asleep when the fire broke out but said he was found in bed. The body was sent to New Orleans for an autopsy.

Horath said Hopkins and Gray had a relationship, but she was not living with him. He said the preliminary investigation revealed that the couple had an argument earlier in the evening and Gray left the house.

He said she later returned and set the fire.