Investigators are looking to see if a vindictive family member or friend started the fire at a house where Charles Raper drove a truck through on Friday night.
Court records show Bill Raper threatened to kill his wife and burn down their house. Investigators said he succeeded in murdering his estranged wife, Sandra, and his 27-year-old stepson, Ray Batchelor.
"We all knew he was capable of something like that because she talked about how mean he was to her, but we never thought he'd actually do it," Amy Temple, Sandra's niece.
The couple had a violent past in recent years. On Thursday, Sandra Raper got a protective order against her husband. The next day, detectives say Bill Raper drove his truck, filled with containers of fuel, right into the house.
Investigators said Raper hoped the truck would ignite from the fireplace pilot light. They said when it did not, Raper got out and stabbed his wife and stepson with a butcher knife.
Some friends of Bill Raper claim he was the one often beaten by his wife and stepson and have pictures to back their story.
"Everybody sees him as the mean person, but he's more the victim of domestic violence," said Fay Joyner, Bill Raper's friend.
Court records show both Rapers suffer from depression and that Bill Raper did file an assault charge against his wife in May, but it was later dropped. Deputies said in the numerous times they responded to the Raper home, she was always the victim.
"This was not an act of instantaneous violence. This was methodically thought out and carried out," said Maj. John Farmer, of the Wilson County Sheriff's Office.
Officials said the fuel already on the ground from the truck crash is making it a little harder to determine what kind of accelerant was used to start Sunday's fire. Investigators sent samples to the State Bureau of Investigation lab.
Two years ago, FBI agents raided Bill Raper's home. Raper watched as agents confiscated computers and hardware. Officials believe he had equipment that may have been used to make
illegal access cards
for satellite TV systems.
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