A Texas pastor found dead with his family after a suspicious house fire in February shot himself while his wife and daughters were trapped by the flames, the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office revealed Friday.
While investigators have not yet determined the official cause of the fire, Pastor Eugene Keahey’s self-inflicted gunshot wound raises more questions after authorities said accelerants were found in the home and the pastor left cryptic messages on social media right before his death.
Police confirmed Friday that 52-year-old Keahey shot himself on Feb. 28 while his Cedar Hill home—with his family inside—burned around him in the early morning hours. Police responded to the scene at around 4:30 a.m. and were able to rescue two individuals from a second-story window.
According to the Dallas Morning News, the death of Keahey’s two daughters—17-year-old Darryn and 15-year-old Camryn—have been ruled homicides. Camryn died in the home, while Darryn died after being hospitalized for weeks. Keahey’s wife, 51-year-old DeAnna, also died in the home and her cause of death has yet to be determined.
Local news station KXAS reports that extended family were also staying in the home. Keahey’s other two children were not believed to be inside at the time.
The investigation into the family’s death has reportedly turned into a criminal inquiry after officials said potential fire accelerants were found inside the home. Authorities have said they believe the fire was set intentionally, though they have stopped short of saying who they believe set it.
Investigators earlier said they were reviewing social media posts penned by Keahey shortly before his death. Three weeks before he died, Keahey reportedly changed his Facebook cover photo to an image that read, “We all have secrets.” About a half-hour before the fire was reported to officials, he also posted a message on his profile about “this difficult time in [his] life.” According to KXAS, he ended the message with: “Good Night Y'all.”
Keahey was a pastor at Mount Zion Baptist Church in Sandbranch, and was widely lauded for his efforts to bring attention to the water issues of his community. Sandbranch had reportedly gone decades without running water, and Keahey’s campaign got more steam after the water crisis in Flint, Michigan gained headlines. He also started an organization to help at-risk youth.
“In a city where there was no attention being brought to, he changed that,” family friend Trisha Allen told the newspaper in February. “He changed Sandbranch.”