House fire, apparent suicide, under investigation
Officials continue to investigate a house fire and apparent suicide in the south Cape after a body was found in the driveway of the burning home Friday.
Police found the body of Richard E. Tull Jr., 73, who investigators say apparently shot himself, outside a home at 2101 S.E. 36th Terrace. The house was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.
“(Tull) was the live-in boyfriend of the owner, who has been notified,” said city spokesperson Connie Barron.
A construction worker across the street called 911 to report the fire and shooting death at about 1:30 p.m., Barron said.
The home is owned by Norma D. Young, owner of local jewelry retail store Diamonds by Dianne, Inc., according to property and business records.
No one was inside the home, and no other houses were damaged by the fire, Barron said.
Tull took Young’s cat from the home and placed it in a pet carrier outside before his death.
“The cat is traumatized but alive right now,” Barron said.
Young told police Tull loved cats.
She declined public comment, stating the incident was a personal matter.
Neighbors said Tull left a note telling firefighters not to enter the home because there was ammunition inside, and that no one was in the residence. However, police did not confirm that information as the investigation continued Friday evening.
Mary Anna Parisi, who lives on Southeast 21st Place with her husband and three children, said she knew Young and Tull from occasionally passing by their home.
“They were nice; when I would go fund-raising with the kids to their house, they would always purchase something,” Parisi said. “This is a very quiet neighborhood. This doesn’t happen here, that’s why we’re all shaken up.”
“It’s just an inferno,” said Joe Papp, who also lives on Southeast 21st Place. “You could see the smoke.”
Ken DeCesare, who lives at the intersection of Southeast 21st Place and Southeast 36th Terrace, said he heard what sounded like a gunshot.
“All of a sudden there’s smoke just pouring out of that house,” he said. “It was burning from one end of the house to the other end. I never saw anything like this.”
Firefighters estimated at least $500,000 in smoke and fire damage to Young’s home Friday. The home’s property value was assessed at $555,590 this year, records show.
The State Fire Marshall’s Office from Fort Lauderdale was on scene Friday to help determine specifics about the fire, with the aid of an accelerant sniffing dog, Ember.
Specific information regarding the cause of the fire was not available Friday evening.