Lehigh Valley

Deaths of elderly mother, son in Palmer Township fire ruled homicides

PALMER TWP., Pa. - A fire investigation in Northampton County is also a double homicide investigation.

An elderly woman and her son were found dead in a Palmer Township home more than a month ago.

District Attorney John Morganelli said in early January, investigators found the bodies of 97-year-old Virginia Houck and her son Roger after they put out a house fire.

Investigators said it appears someone tried to burn the house down in an attempt to hide the bodies.

Palmer police said they believe something happened at the house of Virginia Houck the day before she and her son were killed and their bodies burned, but officials aren't elaborating.

"If anyone saw anyone suspicious or a suspicious car, Thursday prior before, there was an event that happened prior to our investigation," police said.

On January 4, investigators said the bodies of  97-year-old Virginia Houck and 59-year-old Roger Houck were found tied up in the basement of Virginia's home on the 2900 block of Stephens Street in Palmer Township, Northampton County.

Detectives said whoever killed them, set the house on fire in an attempt to cover up the crime.

Investigators said both bodies were so badly burned, they had to be identified by dental records.

"All of this was complicated because this fire did immense damage to this house. Basically reduced the house to ash. The Palmer Township police...have basically been sifting through everything in that house to look for evidence," deputy district attorney Terry Houck said.

Investigators said Virginia Houck was bedridden and in hospice care.

Her son Roger frequently visited from out of town to help the home health aides that helped care for her.

"When her son was in town he would relieve them and had dedicated himself to caring for her. He spent an extensive amount of time caring for his mom," county coroner Zach Lysek said.

Investigators said they do have a person of interest but if they know the motive, they aren't saying.

Morganelli said the case will likely go to the grand jury when more information is known.

Palmer Police are asking anyone with information to contact them.


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