This Thursday, authorities confirmed that the four bodies found in James Blake’s burned mansion were shot. James Blake was renting out his 6,000 square foot mansion and was not involved in this disastrous event. Blake’s home was centered in an upscale division of northern Tampa that included the homes of many sports stars and executives.
Blake, 34, purchased the five bedroom, five bathroom house for 1.5 million in 2005. He was ranked fourth in the Association of Tennis Professionals in 2006 before retiring from professional tennis last year.
Authorities have been rapidly combing through the evidence, and have not yet ruled out the possibility of a murder suicide. Debbie Carter, a spokeswoman for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department, reported that “Detectives were still working to identify the people and determine the cause of Wednesday’s fire.” In addition, Carter also reported that “The father of the family who rented the home purchased a large amount of fireworks and several gasoline cans at a home improvement store days before the fire.”
At 5:45 am Thursday morning, authorities received the initial 911 call about an explosion at Blake’s house. This explosion rapidly led to an inferno that ultimately destroyed the entire house.
Hillsborough County Sheriff Colonel Donna Lusczynski described circumstances as “unusual” and reported that two of the bodies found in Blake’s house sustained some form of “upper body trauma.”
Although the police reported that they have yet to identify the four people who perished in Blake’s house, Tampa technology company VASTEC identified the victims as Darren Campbell and his family. Darren Campbell was VASTEC’s chief operating officer, and recently moved from Milford, Michigan.
Although a VASTEC official could not be reached for comment, the company did release this statement:
“On behalf of all in our organization, we are greatly saddened to learn the news regarding the Campbell family. This is a difficult time for all involved and we are trying to cope with this information. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to friends and family members during this time of grief.”
Although Campbell bought the fireworks that may have burned down Blake’s house, Phantom Fireworks vice- president William Wiemer reveals that the fireworks contained minimal powder, and would spread extremely slowly. Security footage confirms that Campbell did purchase the fireworks on Sunday, but authorities noticed nothing suspicious about the purchase.
Neighbor Chris Peifer told USA Today “It’s the greatest neighborhood, it’s safe, it was hard to believe.” Peifer was a neighbor of the Blake residence for over 26 years, and occasionally saw the family’s daughter.
[Image via Reuters/Hillsborough County Sheriffs Office]