Woman in mobile home fire died from asphyxiation
Monday, March 11, 2013 4:40 AM
A woman, whose remains were found in a mobile home fire on March 2, died from asphyxiation, a preliminary autopsy report showed.
The remains of Terri Lee Gwyn, 29, of 100 Sistrunk Ave., Lot 3, were positively identified through DNA testing, Medical Examiner Allen Collins said.
The preliminary autopsy showed that Gwyn was deceased prior to the fire.
"Her death was due to asphyxia," Collins said.
A DNA sample was provided by her twin sister in North Carolina, he said.
Daniel Larry Williamson, 47, of 100 Sistrunk Ave., Lot 3, was charged with murder and arson in connection with the Gwyn's death and the mobile home fire, which was reported at 5:15 a.m. on Saturday, March 2.
The autopsy was ordered to determine the cause of death after an accelerant was detected on the bed where the remains were found, Fire Investigator Ralph Sciple said.
During an initial hearing last week, Municipal Court Judge Steve Cumberland denied Williamson bond on the murder charge. Bond on the arson charge was set at $50,000.
Sciple said the fire started in a bedroom to the right of the front door.
Smoke was pouring out of windows and doors when two fire engines and the city's rescue truck arrived.
Firefighters battled the blaze for nearly an hour before it was brought under control.
A Neshoba Democrat reporter observed Williamson standing outside the mobile home and speaking with police officers as the blaze was being fought.
Three days earlier, on Wednesday, Feb. 27, Williamson was arrested and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol after he refused a breathalyzer test. He was also charged with no driver's license and no seatbelt. He was released from jail on bond later that same day.
Sciple said he was called to the scene of the fire after first responders deemed the source of the fire suspicious.
"When I got there an accelerant was detected on the bed where the remains were at," Sciple said. "I took some samples to the state crime lab Monday afternoon."
Philadelphia resident Tiffany Moore Miller said the woman who lost her life in the fire was her friend.
She said G wyn moved to Philadelphia from North Carolina.
"As my mom used to say, she was bright eyed and bushy tailed," Miller said.
"She had a big smile about her. She was very friendly. I often teased her that we spoke country here and that she must have forgotten that North Carolina was still in the country."
Miller described her friend as "smart and bright" and noted that she had recently completed an online paralegal course.
Gwyn and Williamson were in a relationship but had had some problems in recent days, Miller said.
"They had been dating," she said. "They came here together, she from North Carolina and he from Chicago. He was a little protective. He really didn't want her going anywhere because he was so jealous of her."
Williamson was in court shortly after 3 p.m. Monday, March 4 for an initial appearance.
Shoeless and bound with chains on his hands and legs, he entered the courtroom at city hall in a wheelchair, surrounded by multiple officers. Bandages were visible on top of both his hands.
Eight officers including the police chief were in the courtroom for the initial appearance.
When Judge Cumberland asked Williamson if he needed a court-appointed attorney, he told the court that he would hire his own.
He shook his head when the judge denied him bond on the murder charge and later asked if he could make a phone call.
Judge Cumberland told him that he would be allowed a phone call when he returned to the jail, noting that the request was denied initially because his case was under investigation and he had not been charged.
Williamson covered his face with a piece of paper when officers brought him out of city hall following the hearing.