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August 19, 2016 -- Gene Emory Dacus, 85, was doused with gasoline and set afire in his back yard. 

Dacus, a Korean War veteran, died from his injuries. 

Police took 18-year-old Thomas Sims into custody after witnesses identified him as the individual seen running from the scene, carrying a gas can.

Dacus was white. Sims is black. 

The crime occurred in Birmingham, Alabama and was reported August 17, 2016.

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Thomas Sims, an 18-year-old already awaiting trial in connection with an armed carjacking earlier this year, is charged with capital murder and held on no bond. He is charged in the killing of 85-year-old Gene Emory Dacus, affectionately called "Mr. Gene" by his neighbors.

Authorities said the capital murder charge stems from the theft of the victim's truck. Detectives are actively searching for a second suspect.

"We'd appreciate it if he would go ahead and turn himself in,'' said Birmingham police Lt. Sean Edwards. "This heinous act was totally senseless and totally unnecessary. Based on Mr. Dacus' reputation, he would have given you his last."


The Birmingham Police are investigating a homicide that occurred Wednesday morning in the 2300 block of 33rd Avenue North.

Early Wednesday morning, Birmingham Police officers responded to the location on a report of a person on fire. Arriving officers found the victim, described as an 85-year-old white male, lying on the ground in the backyard. His body was severely burned. He was pronounced dead on the scene by Birmingham Fire and Rescue.

The victim was identified as Gene Emory Dacus.

Witnesses on the scene reported seeing a fire in the backyard and also reported seeing a black male running down the alley with a red gas jug. The witnesses also followed the suspect and notified the police of his location. The suspect was located a short distance away and taken into custody.

Preliminary investigation revealed there was an encounter between the suspect and the victim at the location. The victim was later doused with gasoline and set on fire.

“This homicide shocks the conscience of any reasonable person. Our hearts are hurting for the victim, his family and our community. The suspect actually confessed to this crime but we have not received any logical justification to explain what happened,” says Chief Roper.

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