Florida Teens Charged in Murder Originally Thought to Be Accidental Fire

Authorities arrested two central Florida teens for the murder of a man who investigators originally thought had died from an accidental fire.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that the teens, ages 18 and 16, were arrested Saturday.

They face first-degree murder and robbery charges for the death of 67-year-old Donald Merkley last month.

The State Fire Marshal's Office originally thought a fire at Merkley's home in Winter Haven, Florida was accidental and caused by an electric heater.

A sheriff's office report says Merkley was choked and hit in the head during a sexual encounter.

The 18-year-old was identified as Jerry Johnsey, and the 16-year-old was identified as Byron Lasiak. The teens were held without bail and couldn't be reached for comment.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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