A Little Rock husband and wife are dead after an early morning fire Wednesday that police are investigating as suspicious.
The Little Rock Fire Department was called at 3:11 a.m. to a report of a fire at 405 Markwood Drive, where fire officials found Donald Creer, 51, and Donna Creer, 57, according to Little Rock Police Department spokesman Sgt. Cassandra Davis.
The Creers were well-known in the gospel-music community in Little Rock. Donna Grady Creer served as a longtime gospel radio personality on stations including KIPR Power 92 FM, KLIH-AM 1250 and 94.9 Hallelujah FM; as a president of the Arkansas Gospel Announcers Guild, and on the Stellar Gospel Music Awards steering committee. Donald Creer was known for employing his bass-baritone singing voice as a soloist.
Donna Creer was also the longtime executive director of the federal court-created Magnet Review Committee, which oversees the operation of the magnet schools in Pulaski County.
The Fire Department found the back, sliding glass door of the Creers' home unlocked when they arrived, police said.
Donald Creer was taken to St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center, and Donna Creer was taken to Baptist Health Medical Center; both were pronounced dead at the hospitals, Davis said.
Davis said fire officials determined the cause to be arson, and police are investigating the Creers' deaths as suspicious.
Capt. Randy Hickmon, a spokesman for the Fire Department, said that report was premature and the fire has not been confirmed as an arson, though the investigation continues.
"It may take a few days to determine what happened," Hickmon said, noting the autopsies need to be conducted and evidence sent to the Crime Lab needs to be analyzed. "We're not calling it arson. You can't do that until the investigation is over. It's just like a murder — you can't call it a murder till the investigation is done."
No damage was visible from the street in front of the home late Wednesday morning. Hickmon said one room inside was destroyed by the blaze, which he said appears to have burnt for a time before being smothered by the smoke.
Police said it's currently unclear what happened inside the home, but investigators don't think the fire was accidental.
The Creers' bodies don't seem to show any visible signs of injuries, Davis said, but the exact cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner.
Police haven't established any motives or suspects yet.
Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.