Sunday, March 9 2014 8:35 PM EDT2014-03-10 00:35:58 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Metro Police have named a suspect in connection with the body of a woman who was found inside a burned out home.
The blaze that erupted on Sunday, March 3, torched the house on Cypress Street where Vernice Aniton had lived for more than 13 years, neighbors said. The 64-year old woman was found dead, but following an autopsy, authorities announced her death was suspicious.
"I couldn't believe it...you know...it wasn't real," says Larry Fugett, victim's friend.
At first, family members and long-time friends thought she died in the fire. "When I found out a homicide it just took everything out of me," says Fugett.
Wednesday, Metro Police released the name of the man they believe is responsible.
Fugett says, "I ask 'em, whoever it is, to give yourself up, you know. It'll be a lot easier."
Police are looking for 53 year old Gerry Lawson. He's wanted for murder, arson, tampering with physical evidence and abuse of a corpse. "Truth's going to come out one way or the another."
Right now police won't talk about the case or the suspect on camera, but neighbors are really concerned and want to find out what detectives have learned.
Fugett says, "I'm actually dying to find out really what happened, you know...exactly what happened."
And until there are more answers, people who loved Aniton are finding ways to remember her...from messages that say rest in peace sign on the sidewalk to small memorials in her front yard.
"I watched the guys come over here and put those up. It's a good thing, but there will be a memorial, think I am going to put one up myself because she was a very good person."
Meanwhile, the house is destroyed, and the charred remains are a painful reminder for neighbors.
"'Cause every time I look at this house I'm expecting Vernice to walk out and come over to my house but she's not there," says Fugett.
Aniton's family did not want to go on camera, however, released a statement Wednesday afternoon. It says: "Our family continues to mourn the loss of our dear sister Vernice. We want to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of love and support during this difficult time. We ask that anyone who may have any information leading to the whereabouts of Gerry Lawson please come forward and contact the police."
Anyone with information on Lawson's whereabouts is asked to call 574-LMPD.