Court Docs: Fowler fire victim killed from gunshot in apparent attempted robbery

One of the men arrested in connection to the case claims it was an attempted robbery gone wrong.

Posted: Dec 13, 2019 4:36 PM
Updated: Dec 13, 2019 4:46 PM

FOWLER, Ind. (WLFI) - An autopsy has revealed a man found dead in a burning Fowler home died from a gunshot wound to the neck. One of the men arrested in connection to the case claims it was an attempted robbery gone wrong. 

Duane Scott Muse, 42 of Fowler, and Rhett Allen Martin, 43 of Fowler, are both in the Benton County jail facing preliminary charges of murder and arson. 

About 7:50 a.m. on Dec. 6, firefighters were called to 103 N. Polk Street for a home on fire.  According to court documents, firefighters found 60-year-old Daniel Riegle dead near his front door. Firefighters say blood splatter was found near the body. 

Court documents say lighter fluid was also found around the body. A K9 detected several places in the home where an accelerant was used. 

Prosecutors say Riegle appeared to be dressed for work when he was killed. The autopsy said no soot was found in his lungs, indicating he was dead prior to the fire. 

Detectives found Riegle's vehicle three blocks away from home near 2nd Street and Madison Avenue. Neighbors said he always parked outside his home and would leave for work at 3:30 a.m.

Court documents said during the investigation Rhett Martin became a suspect. Martin claimed he didn't leave his home that night. His roommate and cousin, Duane Muse, backed him up.

Detectives viewed video footage from security cameras near Reigle's home. In the early morning hours that day, a car resembling Martin's was seen driving around Fowler, including near Reigle's home. 

Detectives went through the trash at Martin and Muse's home in the 300 block of W 4th Street. Documents say gloves were found and a K9 indicated accelerant on it. Police also say they found cut up clothing in the trash. 

Inside the home, police found a metal detector. Court documents said Riegle's family had told detectives he had taken up metal detecting as a hobby. Guns were found in both the men's vehicles, according to court documents. 

Martin was taken to the Fowler Police Department. He states he last saw Riegle several years ago and didn't know where he lived. Court documents said Martin denied the vehicle seen on surveillance was his.

Muse was taken in for questioning and began changing his story to detectives. 

Muse claimed Martin knocked on his bedroom door at 2:45 a.m. and asked him to go to a house where a man lived that owed him money. Muse said Martin went with the intent to rob the man because Martin thought he had some money. 

Muse said he stood as a lookout for Martin. Muse said Martin and Riegle got into a fight and then he heard a "pop sound." Court documents say Muse returned to the car and waited for Martin. Muse said Martin asked him to drive the Riegle's car away from the home.

Muse later got back in Martin's car and the two went home, according to the documents. Muse claimed Martin then left for 30 minutes before coming back. 

In the interview with investigators, Muse said Martin had mace on him. Martin told him when the mace did not work, he shot Riegle with his pistol. Muse said Martin also admitted to him that he put an accelerant near the front door.

The investigation is ongoing.

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