Florence death, house fire under investigation

Firefighters outside the home of Miriam Burgess Wednesday morning. They found her body after putting out a fire at her house. / Tonya Brown

Florence County Coroner Bubba Matthews says he is treating the death of Miriam Burgess, 44, as a homicide.

Just after 6:30 Wednesday morning, Florence firefighters were dispatched to a fire at her home on Stackley Street.

They found Burgess' body inside, after putting out the fire that appears to have started in the kitchen.

Florence police determined Burgess had been stabbed.

Coroner Matthews says an autopsy is being preformed to determine an exact cause of death.

As paramedics pulled Burgess' body from her house Florence, her family, friends and neighbors were overcome with emotion.

"It makes you feed bad then you live right down the street from them and people come and do things right up under your nose," said Leroy Briggs, who is Burgess' neighbor.

Detectives spent more than 12 hours at the scene gathering evidence and talking with neighbors.

Until Burgess' killer is arrested, Florence Police Chief Anson Shells is asking neighbors to be careful.

" Right now we don't know exactly what we're dealing with - whether it's somebody who will do this again. Make sure that you don't let anyone into your home, if you don't who that person is," said Chief Shells.

Neighbors say they'll be following his advice.

"That's a good idea, especially after dark," said Briggs.

Other neighbors say they will make it a point to be more vigilant around their property, but they can't understand why anyone would want to harm Burgess.

They describe her as a quiet woman who kept to herself. They say she loved her children and was a good neighbor.

Police say they're still not sure if the fire was set by Burgess' killer.