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Curtis L Freeman

Source: Howard County Sheriff’s Office / HCSO

KOKOMO (WISH) — A 44-year-old man believed to be homeless has been taken into custody in connection to the murder of a 73-year-old woman on Christmas Day in her rural Howard County home, authorities said Tuesday night.

Pamela K. Hunter was identified in a Tuesday night news release from Capt. Jordan J. Buckley of Howard County Sheriff’s Office.

Pamela K Hunter

Source: Howard County Sheriff’s Office / HCSO

At 12:30 p.m. Monday, the Howard County 911 Dispatch Center received a report of smoke coming from a house in the 3300 block of County Road 300 South. That’s about a mile west of the city of Kokomo in an unincorporated community called Center.

Kokomo Fire Department personnel found Hunter dead inside her burning home. The release says an autopsy later ruled the manner of death as a homicide, and the preliminary cause of death was ruled to be “consistent with that of blunt force trauma.”

The sheriff’s office on Monday afternoon reported it was searching for Curtis L. Freeman.

He was spotted Tuesday afternoon in a liquor store, Orange County Sheriff’s Office reported to Howard County authorities.

The Orange County authorities noted Freeman had likely received a ride to Dubois County from the liquor store.

Freeman was found and taken into custody in Dubois County on an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in Terre Haute City Court on a misdemeanor charge of marijuana possession.

Dubois County is a nearly three-hour drive south of the Kokomo area.

Anyone with information on the case was asked to contact a detective at 765-614-3449, or submit a tip via the Howard County Sheriff’s Office app.