Man murdered at home

Published 12:31 am Friday, May 15, 2009

A Dozier man was found murdered Thursday morning and his bed-ridden wife was left to burn to death inside their Odom Road home, just south of the Crenshaw County line.

Sheriff Dennis Meeks said law enforcement was called to the scene shortly after 8 a.m. when a caregiver arrived and found the house on fire. Emergency personnel quickly responded to the blaze, he said.

“When we arrived, we were able to enter through the garage area to the main portion of the house, which was filled with smoke,” he said. “(Firemen) made entry through an outside door, whose frame was on fire. We were able to use a water hose to put out the fire in the main house.

“Once inside, (law enforcement) attempted to enter a bedroom but found the door locked. We busted in the door and found an elderly gentleman, later identified as the homeowner, Travis Sasser, in a chair, dead.”

Meeks declined to specify exactly how Sasser was killed, stating only, “it’s still under investigation at this point.”

Sasser’s wife, Merita, was pulled from the home by members of the Alabama Beverage Control Board, Gantt, Dozier and Rose Hill volunteer firemen and sheriff’s deputies.

“As we continued to clear the house — we knew there was an elderly female bed-bound in the home,” he said. “We found her and got her out, thankfully. She was then transported from the scene by Lifeflight to a Dothan hospital for smoke inhalation.”

No information was released on her condition, he said.

At present, a motive has not been determined; however, Meeks did confirm two people were interviewed throughout the day in connection with the incident, including the son of the caregiver, who lived in the Sassers’ garage, as well as the caregiver who reported the fire.

Additionally, at approximately 11 a.m., members of the Incident Response Team, Andalusia and Opp police departments and Probation and Parole officers stormed the Sunset Inn and detained an unidentified man deemed a “person of interest” for questioning. He was later released, Meeks said.

“We’re putting the pieces together, but as of right now, there are no suspects,” he said. “We’re going to be working on into the night processing everything and working to solve this crime.”

A large number of law enforcement agencies responded to the scene, including representatives from the county’s district attorney’s office, the state fire marshal’s office, Dozier and Opp police departments, and the Alabama Department of Forensic Science.

This is Covington County’s first homicide of 2009.