BOISE -- Ada County Coroner Erwin Sonnenberg said the the 74-year-old victim of Monday's house fire on the Boise Bench died as a result of multiple blows to the head from a blunt-force object.
Sonnenberg says autopsy reports show that 74-year-old Phyllis Ward likely died before Monday's fire started.
Boise Police say they won't release any information about any potential suspects in the case. They also won't say if the fire is being investigated as arson. They can't tell us if the person who killed Ward may have started the fire.
However, spokesperson Lynn Hightower told KTVB that police and fire investigators have collected evidence that supports the coroner's findings of foul play in the case.
"Most of the time the more investigating officers do, the more answers they get. in this case, just the opposite," said Hightower. "The coroner's report really confirmed their suspicions that there was something more to this case than the simple house fire."
Harry Riener lived next door to Ward for more than 20 years.
"he lady was almost like kind of a second grandma to my older boys. So we're taking it pretty hard," he said.
Police also say they've closed-off part of the roadway near Randolph Drive while investigators secure the fire scene and continue their investigation.
"This is tragic for this family and her neighborhood," said Sgt. Mark Barnett of the Boise Police Violent Crimes Unit. "Mrs. Ward is a long time resident of Randolph Drive. For both her family and our community, we're working very hard to find answers as to what happened to her and why."
Resident we spoke with in the area are shaken up by the crime.
"Last night I did a double take on the doors. And I've never seen anything like this around here," said Greta Thode, who lives on Randolph Drive.
Officers ask anyone that may have information about the case to contact Crime Stoppers at 343-COPS, or log onto www.343cops.com, or text CRIMES or 274637, subject: Tip236. A reward of up to $1,000 is offered by Crime Stoppers for information leading to the arrest of criminal suspects.
Police also say the victim's family in this case is receiving services through the Boise Police Department Victim Services Unit.