A house fire Friday morning in Estate Mandahl appears to have been deliberately set to mask a homicide, according to the V.I. Police Department.
A report of a residential fire was called into the 911 emergency center at 8 a.m. Friday, the VIPD news release said. The V.I. Fire Service arrived on the scene and suppressed the fire. Afterwards, officials found the body of a woman in the kitchen area.
Late Friday police identified the victim as 54-year-old Merle Natta
Police said the victim had trauma to her body and ruled the incident a homicide. The news release referred to the fire as arson.
It was the third homicide in the territory since the first of the year; the second on St. Thomas.
Major Crime Bureau detectives are investigating the case.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include the name of the victim, which was released late Friday.