NORMAN — A man found inside a burning house Wednesday died of a gunshot wound, the state medical examiner said Thursday.
The death of Patrick D. Burton, 51, has been ruled a homicide. The medical examiner also officially confirmed Burton's identity following an autopsy, although neighbors and family friends said on Wednesday they believed the body to be his.
Burton had thermal burns on his body when he was discovered on the floor near a bedroom at 619 Villa Drive. Norman police say they now believe the fire was set to cover the killing.
Police are looking for Burton's pickup, which is missing. Investigators are asking the public's help in finding the truck, a white 2004 extended cab Chevrolet with the tag number 088AXI.
The pickup has white, louvered taillight covers, and white, louvered covers over the rear side windows. A NASCAR license plate is on the front bumper, and a cowbell hangs from the rear bumper. The truck has a hard, white bed cover.
Neighbors said Burton lived at the residence with his mother, Tina Burton, who was in Tennessee visiting relatives when her son died. A family friend said Patrick Burton was off work because of an injury and had been staying home recuperating.
Neighbor Vicki Young said she has known the Burtons her entire life.
“I grew up with him. My parents lived in the same house I live in now, just down the street from them,” she said. “They are good people, wonderful people.”
Neighbor Jake Armstrong said he came outside Wednesday when he heard fire trucks and smelled smoke.
“I noticed right away his pickup truck wasn't there,” Armstrong said.
Firefighters were called to the house by a neighbor who saw smoke billowing from it about 11 a.m. They found Patrick Burton dead inside the home, along with the family's dog.
Anyone who has information about Burton's death or the whereabouts of the pickup should notify law enforcement immediately, Easley said.