The badly burned body of a well-known resident of Roaring Creek, Dean Bennett, 32, was found in his small home after rescuers broke down the chained and padlocked door to try to rescue him from a blazing fire in the shack.

Neighbours and relatives, however, believe that Bennett was already dead when he and his small shack were set on fire, and that the arson was to try to hide the murder.

Bennett's home, an 8x8-foot wooden and zinc shack, was located in the Another World area of Roaring Creek, and the incident occurred around 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 18.

When the fire was finally brought under control and the door was finally broken down by rescuers, Bennett's body had been almost completely consumed by fire. His lower body, his arms and his abdomen, among other body parts, had been badly burned.

Bennett was rushed to the Belmopan Hospital, where he was declared dead on arrival.

The Fire Service has ruled the fire as arson, and police have ruled Bennett's death as murder.

Bennett's sister-in-law told Amandala thathe had gone to a party earlier that Saturday night, March 17, and had returned around midnight to her home, and told her that a man had kicked him in his groin. She told him to take care of himself, and shortly after, he went to sleep in his house.

She said that around 2:00 that Sunday morning, someone alerted them that Bennett's house was on fire. She said that they immediately called 911 and the Belmopan Fire Service, which came to the area.

Witnesses said that the rescuers could not enter the house because the door had been secured with chains, making it very difficult to enter. The inside of the house was on fire, and after the door was eventually broken in, the fire was still raging inside; the flames increased and quickly ravaged the whole house, which was eventually burned to the ground.

On a burning mattress, they found what remained of Bennett's body. His feet were completely destroyed, his hands were missing, and his intestines were charred and exposed.

When police moved Bennett to take him to the Belmopan Hospital, some of his bones that had fallen from his frame were found in the area.

His sister-in-law said that she was more than shocked at his death, because Dean Bennett was liked by everyone in the village. He was friendly with everyone, and was willing to help the neighbors with any chore, or any request made of him. She said that he will be greatly missed.

Jermaine Pratt, his friend, said that Bennett was the handyman of Roaring Creek, willing to clean up and do any odd job for people for anything offered to him, and he was friendly and approachable.

Pratt also was shocked about his gruesome death, and said that he did not deserve it, because he was not a troublemaker. He said that he was alerted to the house fire, and when he arrived, he and others could not enter the house, despite their best efforts.

He said that Bennett had been living in the house for around six months and had not had any conflict with anyone. He said that he had seen him that day and he was well. He did not seem anxious, or give any indication that his life was in danger.

Witnesses said that this was not the first time that an attempt was made to burn down the house while people were sleeping in it. About a year ago, two of Bennett's brothers were sleeping in the house when it was set on fire, but luckily, an alert neighbor saw the flames and aroused them. Neighbors helped put out the fire, but the house was destroyed.

Construction had begun on a new cement house in the yard, and Bennett was requested to be the caretaker. A little house, the shack, was built for him in the yard.

Morna Russell said that Bennett had a crush on her, and wanted to marry her. When she got the news of his death, she said she was shocked and began to cry. She was originally from Roaring Creek, but she now lives in the Lake I area of Belize City. She plans to travel to Roaring Creek to attend his wake tonight at the family's residence, and his funeral, which is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20.

Bennett is survived by three brothers, and many nieces and nephews. He will be buried in the Roaring Creek Cemetery.