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Homicide of woman found in burned house still a mystery

Posted at 10:31 PM, Feb 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-11 22:31:18-05

A homicide that shook up a Bonita Springs neighborhood last year is still a mystery - at least to people living nearby. Sarah Nicholson, 34, was found dead in a home that caught fire on Squire Lane on October 29, 2017.

After firefighters put out the flames, the Lee County Sheriff's Office began investigating the death as a homicide, but three and a half months later, they have released no new developments and no arrests have been made.

"That's kind of scary that somebody can come in and do that to a woman, and nobody can find them," said John Connelly, who lives next door to the burned-out house.

The charred house is a constant reminder to he and his neighbors that Nicholson's killer - or killers - need to be brought to justice.

"I don't know if any of this is true," Connelly said. "I just heard different stories that they shot her first, and then put gas all over, set her on fire and called 911 and stole her car,"

Different stories, but no definite answers on what really happened.

"They do take time," said retired police officer Walt Zalisko. "This is not like TV, where everything is solved within 24 hours."

He said multiple agencies being involved in a case might be one reason it's taking several months to determine exactly what happened to Nicholson.

"The sheriff's department is going to work in unison with the state fire marshal's office," Zalisko said. "They have some information that they don't want to reveal, because it may jeopardize their investigation."

He said fires aren't all that uncommon when a murderer is trying to cover their tracks.

"He'll set a fire to the building, or to a car or whatever," Zalisko said. "But unbeknownst to them, that evidence is retrievable by effective investigative techniques."

The Lee County Sheriff's Office told Fox 4 that the case is still under investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS.