Saturday, November 20, 2004
Blacksburg social activists listed as missing following suspected arson
The fire's cause had not yet been determined in what police are calling "a very vague crime scene."
Sue Daniels, 44, who lived in the cabin, and her friend, Niklan Jones-Lezama, 40, have been listed in a national database of missing people, said Lt. Willie Lucas of the Giles County Sheriff's Office. Newport firefighters were called to Daniels' cabin on Spruce Run Road outside Newport about 7:20 a.m. Thursday. Firefighters found what turned out to be an animal's remains, probably a stray dog, in the rubble and called investigators, Lucas said.
The cause of the fire has not been determined, he said, but it is being investigated as an arson.
"We're not 100 percent sure it was arson, but we haven't ruled out that it was accidental, either," he said.
Daniels' cabin was without electricity, and she used propane and other energy sources for heat, he said.
"We found evidence that there may have - may have - been a struggle" on the property, Lucas said.
"It's a very vague crime scene," he said. "So far, it's a very generalized investigation."
Daniels was last reported being seen about midnight Thursday on the Virginia Tech campus. Lucas said Jones-Lezama was last seen about 5 a.m. Thursday at his home and was headed for a protest in Fort Benning, a military base outside Columbus, Ga. Their cars were left on Daniels' property and have been taken as evidence by investigators.
Both spent several months in federal prison last year for trespassing at Fort Benning during a protest against the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, a facility that trains Latin American soldiers and police.