AUSTIN (KXAN) — Two fires and a burned body now have Austin police looking for links.
Richard Edwin Wroblewski, 34, is accused of starting a fire at a “large transient camp” located along northbound Interstate 35 just south of East William Cannon Drive around 10:12 a.m. on Sunday, Aug. 26.
Later that evening another fire was started nearby, first responders found the body of Harold Maurice Parham, 66 within the fire. Police say Wroblewski is a person of interest in that case.
“Because they are in close proximity of each other, this community that lives in that particular area, they all know each other. So, was there an argument amongst the group? That’s a possibility we are certainly looking at,” said APD Sergeant Eric De Los Santos.
Parham would have been 67 on Friday, his friends say he embraced the homeless lifestyle after falling on hard times and struggling with mental health issues. “He was a good guy, I think I can speak for the people that knew him,” said Cece, one of his friends.
On Saturday, Cece says she talked to Parham, they were making plans on what to do for his birthday. “He was very smart, it was always good conversation with him,” said Cece.
Police say Harold suffered from some sort of traumatic wound before the fire was set, but couldn’t elaborate on what kind of weapon was used.
“I just couldn’t believe what had happened,” said Cece. “I went down to his camp the next day and I had seen all the blood and his things were already being ransacked.”
Police are drawing connections since the two fires on Sunday were so close together and they believe the suspected arsonist knew the victim, they’re just having problems getting anyone at the camp to talk.
“A lot of times they don’t want to talk to police, they want to live a secluded lifestyle and so they don’t want to become involved,” said De Los Santos.
Police say they aren’t ruling anyone out. Even though they have named Wroblewski as the person of interest, they want anyone with information to come forward. Wroblewski is still in jail on arson and theft charges as well as a parole violation.