Four found dead in Del Valle house fire appear to be murdered

Three found dead in Del Valle house fire on Linden Road (KXAN Photo/Kate Weidaw)

DEL VALLE, Texas (KXAN) — Authorities say four people who were found dead in a Del Valle home Thursday morning after a fire was extinguished appear to be murdered.

Firefighters found the victims while they were searching the house after the fire was doused. Travis County Fire were originally called to the small house fire in the 8200 block of Linden Road, about three miles east of the Circuit of the Americas around 5:50 a.m. Authorities say a neighbor called 911 when he saw smoke coming from the home.

Matthew Aaron Barber (Bastrop County Sheriff's Office)
Matthew Aaron Barber mugshot from previous arrest in Bastrop County.(Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office)

During an afternoon press conference, a spokesperson for the Travis County Sheriff’s Office said the deaths have turned into a homicide investigation because the victims had “wounds that were inconsistent with a fire.” Initial information indicates the victims might have been shot.

While official identification has not been made, investigators believe one of the victims, 26-year-old Matthew Aaron Barber, lived at the home. While the three other individuals have not been identified at this time, sources tell KXAN News all the victims were men.

KXAN spoke with an area neighbor who chose not to go on camera for safety concerns, because no one is in custody.

“It’s a little scary,” she said. “I don’t know them personally, I’ve never met them or anything, but there’s a lot of cars that go in and out of there and… we hear a lot of gunshots over in that area also.” Thinking about the victims’ families, the neighbor just offered prayers. “Lots of prayers they find out who did this.”

“We’re asking anyone who knows Matthew and who knows what might have been going on at this address to call us,” said TCSO spokesperson Kristen Dark. Dark said authorities want to know what neighbors and have seen. “Neighbors have described vehicles moving back and forth, we’d like to know what kind of vehicles you are seeing? When do they travel? Do you know anyone driving those vehicles? Whatever we can find out is going to help us in this case.”

When asked if the deaths might be linked to drug activity, Dark said investigators aren’t ruling anything out. According to public records Barber has a criminal history dating back to 2005. It includes minor offenses like drug and DWI convictions. Records show he was also arrested in Bastrop County for aggravated assault in 2014.

Travis County fire crews tell KXAN there aren’t any fire hydrants in the area and the home is set back from the street.

An accelerant dog is assisting crews determine the cause of the fire.

Dark says deputies will be in the neighborhood and stationed at the scene until further notice.

 

 

Victims' friends, family hugging at site of Linden Drive house fire. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bynum)
Victims’ friends, family hugging at site of Linden Drive house fire. (KXAN Photo/Todd Bynum)

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