Police: Man killed Paulding woman, tried to set house on fire

Police: Man killed Paulding woman, tried to set house on fire

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Derek Jess Renfroe (Credit: Paulding County Sheriff’s Office)

Investigators believe a man renting a room in a Paulding County home killed one of the homeowners, then attempted to burn the evidence. 

Derek Jess Renfroe, 32, was arrested Wednesday afternoon and charged with malice murder, aggravated assault, arson and tampering with evidence in the death of Beth Bishop-Harris, Sgt. Ashley Henson with the Paulding sheriff’s office said. Renfroe had been interviewed during the day after being found Wednesday morning. 

“He tried to set the house on fire after he killed her,” Henson said.

Beth Bishop-Harris (Credit: Channel 2 Action News) WSB-TV WSB-TV

Bishop-Harris, 39, was found dead early Tuesday inside her home in the 4000 block of Hiram Sudie Road, near Hiram, Henson said. The woman’s husband, Charles Harris, called 911 shortly before 6 a.m. after finding his wife, according to investigators. 

Police declined to release a cause of death for Bishop-Harris pending an autopsy, but determined it was a homicide.

Renfroe was renting a room from the couple, and the three lived in a small home in deplorable conditions, Henson said. 

Renfroe was initially named a person of interest Tuesday, but investigators could not find him. A motorist spotted him just before 9 a.m. Wednesday on Mulberry Rock Road, between the New Georgia and Union communities, Henson said. 

Renfroe volunteered to go to the sheriff’s office for questioning.

He made his first court appearance Friday and was denied bond. 

This is the second homicide case in five days in Paulding County. In an unrelated case, Tommy Lee Robinson, 18, was killed Friday night after attending a high school football game.

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