Woman's Body Found in Backyard During House Fire

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TOPEKA, Kan. - One person is dead at the scene of a fire in southwest Topeka. Emergency crews responded to the home at 3111 SW 30th Terr. late Monday morning.

Kenny, who lives next door to the house, said he was alerted to the fire by other neighbors passing by. They called the fire department, initially reporting someone may be trapped inside.

When Kenny went over to check on the home he found the body of one of his neighbors, a 50-year-old woman he says is named Brenda, in the backyard.

Kenny said she had a gunshot wound to the chest, a gun laying on the ground beside her, and a note also near her body.

Police say a few notes were found near the body, but wouldn't elaborate on the content or whether they were suicide notes.

Police confirmed the woman lived in the home with her mother, who is in her 80's and was not home at the time of the fire. Kenny said the woman's brother also lived in the house. He was not home either.

Authorities are investigating whether or not the woman's death was related to the fire.

The Topeka Fire Department lists the cause of the fire at incendiary/intentionally set, starting in a stairwell of the home.

The fire caused about $70,000 damage - $40,000 structural and $30,000 content loss.

Authorities are not releasing the name of the victim pending notification of family.

Police said they'll also investigate whether or not the woman had any medical conditions.

A check of Shawnee County Appraisal records shows the home owner is Cleta Clark. No word at this time if that is Brenda's mother.