A 52-year-old woman was found dead in her burning apartment in south Wichita early this morning, and police consider her death a homicide.
Police were looking for the woman's male roommate at Riverwalk Apartments, 2703 S. Topeka. Late Friday they reported that they had found her vehicle, a 1988 brown GMC pickup.
"He is a suspect," said Lt. Ken Landwehr, head of the homicide section.
Police have released a photograph of the roommate taken by a convenience store security camera today. Anyone with information about the suspect's identity, his whereabouts or the truck should call 911 or contact the Wichita Police Department's homicide section at 316-268-4181.
The woman suffered blunt force trauma to the head, and her injuries were not consistent with the circumstances of the fire, Landwehr said.
An autopsy has been conducted, but authorities are not releasing the victim's name pending the notification of her next of kin.
This is the city's first homicide of 2010.
The fire was reported at 4:54 a.m. at Riverwalk Apartments, 2703 S. Topeka. Crews responding to the scene found smoke pouring from one apartment. Once inside, they found the woman and carried her outside, where she was pronounced dead.
Neighbors have told police the woman had lived in the apartment for a little more than a month, Landwehr said. No one reported hearing loud noises prior to the fire, he said.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is assisting fire investigators in the case, Landwehr said.
The fire caused an estimated $50,000 in damage to the building and the apartment's contents, Wichita Fire Capt. Stuart Bevis said.
Anyone with information about the suspect or the case can anonymously call Crime Stoppers at 316-268-2111 or 800-222-TIPS (8477).
Tips can also be sent anonymously from a cell phone by texting CRIMES (274637) and beginning the message with TIP217, or via the Internet by going to www.wsccs.com.
Check Kansas.com for updates.