2 dead in house fire; suspect caught


Two people are dead after a fire fully engulfed a Sumter home on Saturday, and law enforcement await the arrival of the suspected arsonist, who was apprehended Sunday in Ohio.

Joseph Manners, 20, of Kentucky, is in the process of being extradited by Kentucky law enforcement and into the custody of Sumter County Sheriff's Office. Officials said they will charge Manners with arson, and possibly other indictments, in connection to the remains found in the scorched home.

About 8 p.m. on Saturday, firefighters of Sumter County Fire Department and deputies with Sumter County Sheriff's Office responded to reports of a house fire at 1324 Barnwell Drive with possible entrapment.

When emergency responders arrived, the house was fully involved and the occupants were unaccounted for. Once firefighters managed to calm the flames, they discovered two sets of remains in the charred remnants of the home.

A witness reported they saw a small white car leave the driveway of the home, then head north at a high speed as smoke first began to come from the home. 

Officials discovered the homeowners owned three vehicles, one of which was a white Honda Accord that was unaccounted for when they arrived on scene.

Law enforcement put out a BOLO for the vehicle, including the assertion that 20-year-old Joseph Manners, the grandson of the homeowners, might be in the vehicle.

Sunday morning, law enforcement in Kentucky spotted the white Honda Accord and attempted to perform a traffic stop. The driver refused to stop, and a chase began, involving several agencies.

After a long chase that ended when the vehicle crashed into the Ohio River, a manhunt conducted by Ohio law enforcement resulted in the capture of the driver, who was identified as Joseph Manners. After his charges in Ohio are resolved, Manners will be returned to Sumter and faces multiple charges for the Barnwell Drive house fire.

The names of the house fire victims are being withheld, pending identity confirmation via autopsy.