Homi­cide probe af­ter Ti­rau house fire

South Waikato News - - Out & About - PHILLIPA YALDEN

Po­lice are treat­ing the death of a Waikato grand­mother whose body was found in­side her burnt out Ti­rau house as homi­cide.

Roma Joseph, oth­er­wise known as Roma Mid­wood, was dis­cov­ered dead in her rented Ti­rau home that went up in flames on May 1.

De­tec­tive Se­nior Sergeant Matt Cran­shaw con­firmed the fire had been de­lib­er­ately lit and po­lice were treat­ing the 58 year old’s death as a homi­cide.

About 50 per cent of the run­down weath­er­board home was fully en­gulfed in flames by the time the first of four fire crews ar­rived at 3.30am.

Mid­wood, a 58-year-old grand­mother, was dis­cov­ered dead in­side.

Neigh­bours said they woke to a thump­ing sound and re­called see­ing a per­son come out of the door of Joseph’s home.

‘‘That’s what woke us up. There were no voices, two or three thumps,’’ one woman said.

She re­called see­ing one per­son, who ap­peared to have their head cov­ered and was wear­ing dark cloth­ing walk­ing down the street.

Another per­son, who she be­lieved was a man, then came out the door of the woman’s home. He walked around the out­side be­tween the hedge and house, along the drive­way around the back to a ve­hi­cle, she said.

‘‘He wasn’t in a hurry or any­thing, he was just walk­ing. He must have got in the car.

‘‘We didn’t even know the car was there, it just glided out of the drive­way.’’

Mo­ments later, a car pulled out of the drive­way and an orange hue could be seen com­ing from the kitchen area, she said.

‘‘My neigh­bour di­alled the fire brigade and they were here straight away.’’

Those who knew Roma, who was known as Rona to neigh­bours, de­scribed her as a ‘‘lovely woman, who kept to her­self’’.

Her best friend of 30 years said Joseph was a ‘‘tal­ented and crafty woman who lived for her grand­chil­dren’’.

Those who knew her in the small ad­join­ing street a block back from the cen­tre of Ti­rau said she kept the ren­tal tidy and was al­ways friendly. She would give a wave or say hello on one of her walks.

She had fam­ily not far away who vis­ited the house from time to time.

CHRIS­TINE CORNEGE/FAIR­FAX NZ

The scene of fatal house fire on Lit­tle Street in Ti­rau.

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