A northwest Atlanta community is reeling one week after a couple was found strangled inside their burning home, and neighbors want answers.
A crowd gathered on Harvel Drive Tuesday to honor Harry Hubbard, 67, and his 65-year-old wife, who were found badly burned and covered in debris inside their home July 3. Authorities said they were strangled to death before the home caught fire.
Harry and Deborah Hubbard had recently moved from New York state to Atlanta to retire, according to Buffalo CBS affiliate station WIBV-TV. They were veterans, and Deborah worked as a nurse for many years at a Buffalo VA hospital, the news station reported.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s office said Thursday it still can’t positively identify the woman.
Vanessa Stanley, the Hubbards’ neighbor, told Channel 2 Action News that most of the neighborhood came out Tuesday to pay their respects and pray for a resolution in the case.
Investigators still don’t know what caused the fire and have not identified any suspects in the killings, a fire official said.
“It's very much a mystery because we've never had anything like this happen,” Stanley said. “I mean little petty crimes every now and then, but never anything like — nobody would have ever dreamed of anything like this happening."
The home was already on fire when emergency crews responded just before 4 a.m. July 3. After putting out the blaze, it took firefighters some time to recover the bodies as they were “covered in heavy debris,” Atlanta fire Chief Randall Slaughter told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Harry Hubbard was found in the hallway, and his wife was found in a bedroom.
Roughly 12 hours later, the Medical Examiner’s office ruled their deaths a homicide. Atlanta police have now taken lead in the investigation, but due to the fire damage at the home, evidence collection is proving difficult.
More than 50 percent of the residence was destroyed in the fire, Atlanta police homicide commander Lt. Carven Tyus said at a press conference last week.
“So right now, we can’t determine if someone forced entry into that house or if it was someone that they let into that house,” he said.
Investigators are asking anyone with information to come forward. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for rewards of up to $2,000, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting crimestoppersatlanta.org.