HUDSON, Florida - Ignazio Badalucco and his wife, Bernice, knew 36-year-old Arthur Regula well. They say he was not only their neighbor, he was a friend. He even did some tile work inside and outside their Hudson home for them.
"He was meticulous. I mean, in everything he did. He was meticulous about his work."
Sadly, Regula's line of work may have led to his death in the Historic Kenwood neighborhood of St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg police say he and 51-year-old Bruce Johnson were helping to renovate the property owner's home at that address when they were murdered.
Regula lays tile for a living. Johnson is a friend of the homeowner.
Mike Puetz of the St. Petersburg Police Department said, "Just prior to the fire starting, we believe someone came into the house and killed both of these men, and then used the fire to cover up the crime scene."
Firefighters were called out to the home Sunday afternoon around 1:30.
Bernice was clearly shaken up Monday night outside her home, right around the corner from where Regula lived with his partner. She said, "Why do such bad things happen to such good people? I don't get it."
She said the double murders will keep her awake tonight.
Detectives searched for Regula's missing Ford pickup truck. They found it abandoned in Tampa near the intersection of Columbus and MacDill on Monday afternoon.
"There is a possibility the suspect might have left in that car," said Puetz.
Police aren't releasing details on an exact cause of death for the two, or a possible motive in the crime yet.
Friends of Bruce Johnson left flowers and balloons in front of the fire-damaged home. They say Johnson had a big heart and they can't understand why anyone would want him dead. A sentiment shared by Regula's neighbors, too.
Ignazio said, "They lost somebody that really had a big heart and was a good person."
Meanwhile, the home's owner was not at home at the time of the fire, and police say he's cooperating with the investigation. On Monday night, a police officer was stationed in front of the burned out house.