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Man's death in Newton house fire a likely suicide, officials say

A 65-year-old Newton man apparently set his house on fire, then shot himself to death early this morning, Harvey County authorities said.

Richard Swickard was found in the basement of his house at 1628 Hillcrest Road, which was destroyed by fire early this morning, authorities said.

Swickard died from a gunshot wound to the head, Harvey County Attorney David Yoder said, and a handgun was found with him.

Although the investigation into the fire is continuing, Yoder said, "we are not investigating it as a suspicious death."

The fire was deliberately set, Yoder said, and the blaze destroyed the house. Walls in the house collapsed in the fire, Newton Fire Department Battalion Chief Jerry Conyers said.

"We're still talking to family members, witnesses, neighbors ... trying to piece it all together," Yoder said.

The fire was reported shortly after 5 a.m., Conyers said.

Check Kansas.com for updates.

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