Police: Fire that killed Atlanta couple ruled homicide

Atlanta Police say a husband and wife found dead in their burning home, were strangled before their home was set on fire.

Firefighters found the bodies of a 67-year-old man and his 65-year-old wife in their home on Harvel Drive, just after 4 a.m. on Tuesday. 

Less than 12 hours later, the medical examiner determined the couple died from strangulation and thermal injuries. 

"The M.E. can't say for certain which injury caused the death, whether it was the fire or the strangulation," said Atlanta Police Lt. Carven Tyus.

Neighbor Bobby Graham said he saw the smoke pouring out of the windows and flames in the front section of the home before dawn. Graham says his sons and others tried to get to the couple. 

"Some neighbors, they were trying to get to them, but it was too hot, too hot to go, nobody could get to them," Graham said.

When firefighters arrived, flames had already eaten away at half the house.  Firefighters pushed their way through the flames and made the heartbreaking discovery. 

"We made a quick search and discovered the bodies. They were covered in heavy debris," said Atlanta Fire Chief Randall Slaughter. 

Homicide detectives were on the scene, but much of hte evidence was destroyed by the flames.  Investigators don't know who or why anyone would want the couple dead.

"We're currently working with arson to determine the cause of fire and we'll start from there," said Tyus. 

Police say they talked to the couple's son who said he last saw his parents Monday.  Investigators are now talking to people in the neighborhood to see if anyone saw or heard anything suspicious.