‘I just didn’t expect her story to end this way’: Family seeks answers following fatal fires near Polo

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 6:56 PM CDT
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CALDWELL COUNTY, Mo. (KCTV) - The family of a woman killed in a house fire wants answers after the Caldwell County Sheriff confirms it was deliberately set.

The fire was one of three to happen in one day near Polo. investigators confirmed all three cases as arson Wednesday.

The first fire killed 96-year-old Lorene Fickess. Fire crews were called to the Fickess home at 8:30 Tuesday morning after neighbors called 9-11. As crews were on scene, two other fire calls came in within four miles of each other on State Road D.

“My Chief Deputy and I both looked at each other and thought somehow these have be connected,” said Sheriff Mitchell Allen, Caldwell County. “This doesn’t happen and then when the third fire was discovered... this definitely doesn’t. So they have to be connected. So to find out, they are connected.”

Allen confirmed all three cases to be arson.

The Sheriff also said his department is reviewing evidence and witnesses have come forward.

Christal Hicks, Lorene’s granddaughter, told KCTV5 her grandmother lived in the home since 1959.

“She always stayed home, took care of the family and she loves to garden and loved her flowers. She was an excellent cook,” said Christal. “She loved her family dearly. And anyone that married in the family was instantly family and she treated us all the same.”

She said her grandmother deeply loved her very large family. She had seven kids, 18 grandchildren, 39 great-grandchildren and seven great-great-grandchildren.

Lorene would have turned 97 in June, yet Christal thought grandma’s story had many more chapters to come.

“I guess I just didn’t expect her story to end this way. You know?” said Christal. “She had asked my dad or oldest son, he asked, she asked him if he thought that she would make it to 100. And he said absolutely, yes. And two days later, she’s gone.”

No word on a suspect description, but Allen said deputies are searching for a vehicle described as a black SUV, possibly a Ford Edge.

Update on suspect and vehicle information from the Structure Fires on May 10th, 2022: The Caldwell County Sheriff's...

Posted by Caldwell County Missouri Sheriff's Department on Wednesday, May 11, 2022

“We think somebody saw something,” said Allen. “We ask that if you saw something that didn’t look right, it’s probably not right. Please call us and tell us.”

Anyone with information can contact the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at 816-586-2681.