Beaufort News

Man found dead in Seabrook fire allegedly set fire same day to estranged wife's home

A 41-year-old Aiken County man found dead Sunday in a Seabrook home destroyed by fire is suspected of starting a fire that morning at the Aiken home of his estranged wife, according to an Aiken County Sheriff's Office incident report.

Investigators believe Joe Travis Pryor set fire to Amy Pryor's home in Aiken at about 10 a.m., according to Aiken County sheriff's Capt. Troy Elwell.

The home was unoccupied at the time of the fire, which investigators believe started in the master bedroom. No injuries were reported, according to the report.

The couple were divorcing, and Pryor reportedly told neighbors Saturday he was going to harm himself, according to the incident report.

Aiken fire crews arrived at Amy Pryor's residence to find the home in flames. The fire caused extensive damage to the residence, valued at about $500,000, the report said.

When Aiken investigators named Joe Pryor as an arson suspect, they entered his name into a national law-enforcement database, Elwell said. Beaufort County deputies saw the report at about 1:30 p.m., around the same time Burton fire crews and deputies were dispatched to a fire at a house Joe Pryor owned at 44 Sea Crest Lane in Seabrook, said Beaufort County sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Robin McIntosh.

Deputies found a vehicle matching the description of Joe Pryor's, she said.

After Burton Fire District crews were able to safely enter the home, they found his body, according to Coroner Ed Allen.

The cause of death has not been made public. Allen said preliminary autopsy results from the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston were released to his office Monday, but he was still awaiting an official confirmation from MUSC.

No other injuries were reported, McIntosh said.

The Beaufort County Fire Scene Investigation Team, the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office and the S.C. Law Enforcement Division are investigating, according to Burton Fire District spokesman Daniel Byrne.

Members of Pryor's family traveled from Aiken and spoke to investigators in Beaufort on Sunday, McIntosh said. She would not say if Joe Pryor is suspected of setting the Sea Crest Lane blaze, but that investigators deemed the fire suspicious.

Fire crews responded after a neighbor called 911, Byrne said. They arrived to find the single-story, elevated home engulfed in flames, he said.

Crews needed two hours to extinguish the fire. The home was destroyed, Byrne said.