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St. Pete arson victim was father of suspect's grandchild

5:38 PM, May 2, 2013   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, FL -- There were some major developments Thursday in a deadly arson case in St. Petersburg.

Investigators say the house was torched by its owner. There's also speculation he may have been trying to cover up a murder.

Detectives say on Tuesday -- with his wife and daughter out of town on business -- 60-year-old Daniel Papaleo invited 33-year-old Robert Greaves to his home on 13th Street North, apparently with a plan.

Police records show Papaleo and Greaves, the man who had fathered Papaleo's one-and-a half year-old granddaughter, did not get along.

"There are some police reports that we're looking at that indicate some friction within the family," said St. Petersburg Police Spokesman Bill Proffitt.

Investigators say some time after Greaves arrived, a neighbor heard the distinct sound of a man groaning four times, uttering the words "Help me."

When the neighbor went to see what was wrong, Papaleo was said to be acting strangely. He was hiding behind a wall, out of breath, but denying anything was wrong.

Minutes later, the house was on fire.

Alberta Dalke, a neighbor, wondered "What was so bad that he had to do that?"

Investigators say it appears Greaves was struck hard, suffering blunt force trauma, before he and the house were torched.

An accelerant -- likely gasoline -- was used to fuel the flames that burned his body beyond recognition.

"I think we found one good fingerprint that helped us, and I think we also compared dental records," said Proffitt.

Neighbors say they helped Papaleo get away from the home. The same fire that burned Greaves nearly caught him too. He was suffering from smoke inhalation when rescue crews arrived.

But when asked if anyone else was in the house, neighbors say he uttered only one name: "Bob."

Papaleo was taken to a local hospital. For now he is charged with arson, but will likely face murder charges as well, depending upon his interview with police.

"I think the injuries have precluded him from giving the investigators any kind of statement up to this point," said Proffitt.

Detectives say they have interviewed Papaleo's wife and daughter, but declined to release any details of that conversation.

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