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February 29, 2016

Age: 19

Died: January 31, 2004

Hometown: Osceola

On Saturday, January 31, Osceola fire officials responded to a call stating Cecil Gaddy’s East Shaw Street home was on fire. They found Gaddy’s deceased body in a back bedroom — lying face down. Though officials were quick to rule Gaddy’s death an “accident” caused by a house fire, details later emerged that showed the young man’s fiery death was anything but accidental.

The state fire marshal said the fire started on the living room sofa, though Gaddy’s body was found on his bed in a back bedroom. Gaddy’s wheelchair, a necessity for him to move from room to room, was found outside in deep snow, several feet away from a house equipped with a ramp. Perhaps most telling is Gaddy’s death certificate, stating the victim’s “immediate cause” of death as “Burns — total body.” Nowhere on the death certificate is there any mention of smoke inhalation. The “Approximate Interval Between Onset and Death” — the time it took Cecil Gaddy to die — is a single handwritten word: minutes.

Gaddy was paralyzed from the waist down in a vehicle accident three years prior to his death. Shortly before his death, he had begun hanging out with a rough crowd and often offered individuals his prescription medication and money in exchange for their friendship. He told his sister that friends had wanted to set up a meth lab in his home and he was afraid of what they would do after he said no.

Family members said they suspected arson from the very beginning and had voiced their suspicions to Osceola police and fire department officials before the fire was even completely extinguished. Officials questioned several of Gaddy’s friends, and none admitted to seeing him the night before the fire.

Officials have said the only way the case would be reopened was if someone came forward with new, credible information.