St. Joseph County man disappears same day his house burns in fire

Was it a coincidence or a crime?

A St. Joseph County man disappears the same day his house, foreclosed on, nearly burns down.

Late Saturday night neighbors living along Sandybrook Lane noticed a burning smell but didn't know where it was coming from until Sunday afternoon.

Neighbors called 911 after noticing fire coming from Douglas Wilcox's house.

Firefighters say it started in the basement and by the time the trucks arrived smoke was coming out of the chimney.

After firefighters searched Wilcox’s house, no one was home. He had disappeared.

A short time later the new owner of the house arrived to collect the house keys.

Neighbors were surprised to find out the house had been bought and was in foreclosure.

Neighbor William Frame says, “We didn't know at the time that the house had been foreclosed. His daughter didn't even know his house had been foreclosed until the new owner showed up Sunday afternoon to get the keys. (He was like)… oh my gosh all these fire trucks, that’s the first he knew about it.”

The new owner of the home bought the house almost a month ago at the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Auction.

He let Wilcox stay in the house longer to clear out his belongings. When the owner arrived Sunday to collect the keys he says nothing had been packed.

According to St. Joseph County Police His employer has stated that this is unusual behavior for Wilcox, claiming he has only called in sick once in the last year and a half. They say he has never not shown up to work without calling.

Wilcox is described as a white male, 5'11" 228 lbs. with gray hair and brown eyes. His vehicle is a 2003 Black Ford Taurus with a possible Indiana license plate of HW 6244.

Anyone with information should contact Detective Cynthia Guest in the St. Joseph County Police Department Detective Bureau at 574.235.9569

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