MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG)– An Indianola, Mississippi mother is asking for the public’s help finding the person who set a Frayser house on fire with her son inside.
Christine Atkins Gray said her son was cleaning out a property he owned on Suncrest Street last month when someone started the fire.
The body of James Atkins, 37, was found inside the home, and the Memphis Fire Department later declared it was arson.
Gray said homicide investigators are still trying to determine her son’s cause of death and they are waiting on a toxicology report to see if there was anything in his system.
“They said there were no stab wounds, no gunshot wounds,” said Gray. “They don’t know why he couldn’t get up because he had smoke in his lungs.”
Gray said her son began flipping houses at a young age and owned about fifteen properties.
She said Atkins was close to becoming a millionaire when he died. Gray said he loved renovating homes, and one of his goals was always to improve the block.
“Hopefully, the detectives can find out who did it and why it was done. I feel it was done for greed. He could’ve done a whole lot more to have a whole lot more people,” Gray said.
Gray said the last time her son was seen alive was when he left his home nearby at around 7:30 p.m. on July 6.
Firefighters responded to the fire on Suncrest about three hours later.
They were able to bring the fire under control in less than twenty minutes. They found Atkins’s body in the living room, which is where they believe the fire started.
“That was the most devastating time in life when I got that call,” said Gray. “When I got the call, I fainted. I hit the floor hard.”
Gray is asking anyone who might have seen anything out of the ordinary on Suncrest that night to contact police.
“Help us bring to justice whoever did this. Whoever killed my son,” she said.
Gray said Atkins leaves behind four younger brothers and an 8-year-old son. Gray’s wife said they also have three daughters.
If you have any information that can help detectives solve this case, call Crimestoppers at (901)-528-CASH.