Murdered woman found inside Wise County home set on fire

The Wise County Sheriff's Office is investigating the murder of a woman whose body was found inside a burning home.

The fire happened on July 5 at a home in Lake Bridgeport. Firefighters found 32-year-old Lauren Whitener dead inside a bedroom. An autopsy was ordered, and investigators say the preliminary results indicate she was murdered.

In the small Wise County town of Lake Bridgeport on July 5, first responders were called to a house fire on North Main Street. When the fire was out, they found Whitener dead.

“The neighbor saw the smoke and 911 was called,” explained Wise County Chief Deputy Craig Johnson. “It is a pretty rare incident, and we’re treating it with all due respect and caution going forward and pursuing every lead we can.”

The medical examiner ruled Whitener’s death as a homicide.

Johnson says while it’s still early in the investigation, he believes someone may have killed Whitener and then set the fire.

“We have conducted an excess of 20 interviews in the investigation of this case,” he said.

The Wise County Fire Marshal’s Office and the Tarrant County Arson Task Force are investigating the cause of the fire. Meanwhile, the Wise County Sheriff’s Office and the Texas Rangers are focusing on what's now a murder investigation.

“Every murder or capital murder investigation has its own unique set of circumstances,” Johnson said.

The outside of the home had no visible scorch marks.

Whitener was new to the Lake Bridgeport community. Chief Deputy Johnson says she'd only moved there a few months ago.

“As this area grows and jobs migrate this way, so do the folks that come with them,” he said. “And I believe that she fits into that category.”

According to Wise County Sheriff’s Office, several pieces of forensic evidence have been collected in this case and submitted to crime labs in both Dallas and Austin.