Local News

Authorities Still Seek Answers In Durham House Fire

Posted January 21, 2003

— Two weeks ago, investigators swarmed American Drive after a fire destroyed a Durham home. A teenager claims she was tied up and left to die inside before she escaped. Authorities say they still do not have the answers they need to solve the case.

Police said Brooke Trimble, 17, is the only victim and the only witness. Officers tried for nearly an hour to talk to her at the scene, but they had no luck. Since then, Trimble and her family twice canceled scheduled interviews with police.

"Basically, we're just waiting to hear from her, her family or her attorney at this point," said Sgt. A.R. Marsh, of the Durham Police Department. "There was some question at some point about her physical and emotional state based on the trauma of what she's gone through."

Investigators said it is not unusual for victims to be reluctant to talk.

"Being a victim of a crime is a traumatic experience and in reporting it, you're basically reliving it," Marsh said. "We're not insensitive to that, however, it does make things a little bit difficult for us."

District Attorney Jim Hardin said his office frequently has to dismiss cases because the victim will not cooperate. He said there is one mechanism in place to make them talk.

"There is a process in place that can cause them to come to court. A judge can cause them to testify under fear of contempt, but again, that is extremely rare," he said.

Hardin said in his 20-year career he has seen few victims hauled into court as material witnesses. As for police, they are still hopeful that Trimble will talk to them at some point.


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