Investigators look into connection between Roanoke Co. deaths and Roanoke City fires

Roanoke County Police are investigating an incident at McAfee Knob... 5.26.23
Roanoke County Police are investigating an incident at McAfee Knob... 5.26.23(WDBJ)
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 8:51 AM EDT
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ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ) - Investigators believe two fires early Friday in the city of Roanoke are related to two bodies discovered a few hours later in Roanoke County.

Roanoke County Police have identified one of the males who was found dead as 62-year-old Lewis James Lambert Jr. of Roanoke. Police said the other person was a juvenile.

Investigators said both males had been shot and that one of the gunshot wounds appeared to be self-inflicted, but additional details will wait until an autopsy report is completed. No one is being sought in connection with the case and police say there is no danger to the community.

Later, Roanoke Fire EMS reported one of the males was a person of interest in two fires early Friday morning on Rorer Avenue and on 14th Street. Investigators determined both fires were incendiary and they were connected.

They are asking anyone with information to contact the Roanoke Fire Marshal’s Office, the Roanoke City Police Department or the Roanoke County Police Department.

The bodies were found about 6 a.m. Friday by hikers Emily Latshaw and Grace Elliott, who had traveled to western Virginia from Ohio to begin a three-day backpacking trip. When they pulled into the McAfee Knob Trailhead parking lot, they saw two people lying on the ground. At first the women thought they were hikers who were napping.

“We parked, got our stuff ready and set off for the trail, and looked over and realized there was blood and they were not alive,” Latshaw said.

“I think we’re both in shock,” said Grace Elliott. “We’re going to try and hike at least part of the day and process what we saw, but it’s definitely not what we expected for our first backpacking trip.”