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Ocala couple who died in fire were murdered, medical examiner says

No suspects identified

Robert Cooper and Ariel Prim were found dead in their Ocala home on July 28, 2018. Detectives are seeking information about their suspicious deaths.
Robert Cooper and Ariel Prim were found dead in their Ocala home on July 28, 2018. Detectives are seeking information about their suspicious deaths.

OCALA, Fla. – The deaths of a couple who died when their Ocala mobile home burned to the ground in July have been ruled homicides, the Marion County Sheriff's Office announced Thursday.

No suspects have been identified in connection with the deaths of Robert Cooper and Ariel Prim. Officials said it took nearly six months to positively identify their bodies because they were so badly burned.

Earlier this year, sheriff's office spokeswoman Lauren Lettelier said the medical examiner ruled the cause of death as undetermined and the fire marshal couldn't say how the fire started.

"At this point, we've ruled it's a suspicious death investigation," Lettelier said in January. "There are a lot of variables where we can't come out and say this is a homicide investigation but it's certainly suspicious to us."

Officials have not said what information led them to rule the deaths as homicides.

Karen Cooper told News 6 that she has suspected all along that her son and his wife were murdered.

"I don't know why they were killed, over money, or things, or whatever, but nobody deserves to be killed over money or things," she said in January. "I talked to Robert the night before, at 11:45 Friday night, and everything was fine. And yet, by 7 the next morning they were burned to the bone. How can that be?"

She said that before their deaths, the couple had been planning to move out of Ocala.

Anyone with information about the couple's death is asked to contact Marion County Crime Stoppers at 352-368-STOP.​


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