Grandson facing arson, murder charges in deadly fire

Joseph Manners
Joseph Manners

SUMTER COUNTY, SC (WIS) - A Kentucky man has been arrested and charged with arson and murder following a house fire in Sumter County that killed his grandparents.

Sumter County Sheriff's deputies started investigating the case after the bodies of 79-year-old JoannTopper and 68-year-old James William Topper and were found in a fire that destroyed a house on Barnwell Drive Saturday.

Sheriff's investigators said the victims are the grandparents of 20-year-old Joseph Manners.

Manners had been living at the home for the past several months, according to Sheriff Anthony Dennis. Deputies were called to the home previously to investigate a report of domestic violence, but the grandmother did not press charges in the incident.

A witness told investigators that as the house burned, a small, white car left the driveway of the home and sped away north on Barnwell Drive.

Investigators learned that the homeowners had three vehicles registered in their names, and they found two of them at the home. They checked the registration of the third vehicle, which was missing, and it was a white Honda Accord.

Deputies notified other law enforcement agencies to be on the lookout for the vehicle, which was possibly being driven by Manners, who is from Edgewood, KY.

Early Sunday morning, police in Erlanger, KY spotted the vehicle on Interstate 75 and attempted to pull it over,  but the driver crossed the Ohio River into Cincinnati. Cincinnati officers found the vehicle and arrested the driver after he drove the car into the Ohio River and ran away. The driver was identified as Manners.

He is being held in Cincinnati and is awaiting extradition to South Carolina to face an arson charge and two murder charges.

Copyright 2013 WIS. All rights reserved.