New details on Newton County house fire suggest murder-suicide

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UPDATE: Officials have identified the two people who died in a house fire in Newton County, Arkansas.

According to the Newton County Sheriff’s office, Dianne Reno, 71, and her son Dustin Reno, 33, died in an apparent murder-suicide.

When firefighters arrived on the scene, they noticed two vehicles “parked in a strange manner very near the house with the gas doors open and both gas caps removed.”

The sheriff’s office said firefighters also noticed blood on the front porch and discovered the front door was locked.

“When his Deputies recovered the bodies it was immediately obvious both people and the dog had suffered gunshot wounds to their heads,” Newton County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release. “Deputies also recovered a .380 caliber handgun and other evidence before the fire became too intense for them safely remain in the house as they had been forced to make entry without protective gear to save the bodies.”

According to the release, officials believe Dianne was sleeping on the couch when Cody put a pillow over her head and shot her. He then shot a small dog on the front porch and then carried it inside and placed it on the cot with his mother.

Officials say then Cody set the house and outbuilding on fire using the gasoline from the cars and returned to his mother’s side where he shot himself.

The Sheriff’s Office says the location of the gun in relation to his body and other physical evidence supports Cody being the shooter, however, both bodies were sent to the Arkansas State Crime Lab’s Medical Examiner to confirm the cause of death.

“Sheriff Wheeler said his Investigators were able to conduct interviews with people close to the two victims and were given statements and evidence to support the theory of Cody Reno having a history of behavior and other indicators leading up to such a tragedy,” the press release said.

“This is just a heart-wrenching situation on so many levels that no family should ever have to endure,” Wheeler said. “My thoughts and prayers are with the family and all my personnel involved, as well as the other first responders who had to deal with it. I have to say, Deputy Marc Lowery and Investigator Mikel Blocker went well above and beyond the call of duty to enter that house and recover those bodies. They initially did so out of respect of the deceased and put themselves in harm’s way to do so. That action led to the recovery of evidence that gives us a pretty clear picture of what took place. We otherwise would have probably never known.”

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NEWTON COUNTY, Ark. — Two people and a dog are found deceased in an ongoing house fire in Newton County.

According to the Newton County Sheriff’s Office, multiple 911 calls were received about the house fire that happened several miles south of Jasper on Highway 7.

Several fire departments responded along with Newton County deputies.

Police say a deceased person was located inside the house near the front door and another deceased person along with a dog farther inside the home.

The home was destroyed by the fire.

Police say the bodies are going to Little Rock for identification confirmation and confirmation of a cause of death.

The investigation is ongoing.

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