Landlord shot, killed and set on fire while trying to collect overdue rent

COLUMBUS (WCMH)–Police have arrested two people after a man was found dead after fire on Lilley Avenue, southeast of downtown.

The Columbus Division of Police arrested 33-year-old Maurice E. Watkins and 25-year-old Pierre Williams.

Pierre Williams
Maurice Watkins

Watkins is charged with murder for allegedly shooting the victim, 50-year-old Joseph P. Remlinger.

Williams is expected to be charged with arson for setting a fire to cover up the shooting.

According to Columbus police, Remlinger was Watkins’ landlord and he was trying to collect overdue rent when he was shot by Watkins.

Court records show that Watkins was in the process of being evicted from the Grasmere Avenue home that he rented from Remlinger.

Sgt. Dave Sicilian said officers found one of the suspects while executing a search warrant at 2755 Grasmere Avenue. According to police, as SWAT officers were preparing to enter the home, a detective saw the suspect drive by.

Patrol officers pulled him over and took him into custody.

 

Battalion Chief Steve Martin says the deadly fire started in the garage of the residence.

It took about an hour to contain, at which point investigators discovered a car in the garage with a body inside.

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