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Suspect in deadly Ponchatoula house fire confesses according to Tangipahoa sheriff

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(WVUE) -

In a rural area of Ponchatoula it will be a while before the shock of what happened on a dusty road settles.

An 89-year old woman was killed when her home was deliberately set afire Sunday night, and now the sheriff of Tangipahoa Parish said a man she knew has confessed to the crime.

"The whole neighborhood is devastated, you know, with what happened and the way it happened. We felt so helpless,” said Diane Barnes, a friend of Dorothy Poche.

Poche's body was found in her home on School Section Road. Barnes said she and Poche had been friends for 40-plus years.

"Very kind-hearted, very gentle, very loving, would give you the shirt off her back,” Barnes said.

"Her car, or the car that she was known to have with her was missing,” said Sheriff Daniel Edwards during a mid-morning press conference.

He said 26-year-old Timothy Rouchon admitted setting the deadly fire.

"We believe that he drove Ms. Poche's car from the scene of this particular house that was on fire to Bogalusa and we believe that he did it while the fire was actually burning,” the sheriff said.

Rouchon was named a person of interest, and the sheriff said on Tuesday Rouchon turned himself in to the East Feliciana Sheriff’s Office. At that time, the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office had outstanding warrants out on Rouchon for unrelated charges and took custody of him.

"We sent detectives to talk with Mr. Rouchon, wherein he confessed to setting this particular house on fire knowing that Ms. Poche was in fact inside of this home. It's not like he'd just walked in and set the house on fire and walked out. He was inside the house for a period of time. He knew she was inside,” said the sheriff.

And Sheriff Edwards said Rouchon knew the victim prior to the fire.

"This is not a situation where he was not familiar with her, or that he had never been in this house. It is our belief that he had stayed at this house, you know, on a number of occasions. He knew her grandson, I believe,” said the sheriff.

"I saw him in and out of here but I did not know him. He was friends with her grandson and somehow or another the friendship kind of went sour,” said Barnes.

The sheriff said a motive had not been established.

"Motive is something that I'm not sure about.This particular individual is not very easy to communicate with. I don't want to go into great lengths about that, but in any event, I can't say why he did it. I simply don't know,” the sheriff said.

The victim was like family to some of his deputies.

"One of my deputies, in particular, called her maw maw,” he said.

So the murder of Poche is tough for not only the community, but also law enforcement.

"When you live an exemplary life in your own home, these are completely heinous crimes and to me they're just unforgivable,” said the sheriff.

Rouchon will be booked with second-degree murder, obstruction of justice and theft of a vehicle as well as aggravated arson.

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