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Fire official nows says mom and two children found in burned shed had been shot

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Two children found dead in a burned Lewis County shed earlier this month were shot, authorities said Monday.

Investigators previously said they recovered a pistol from the rubble of the burned Alum Bridge outbuilding, where Beth Kraus and her two children, Kaden, 5, and Keira, 3, were found dead on Nov. 12.

"I do believe the children were shot, but that's just about all I know," Deputy Fire Marshal Reed Cook said.

UPDATE: Today he said the mother also had been shot.

Doug Kraus told police he returned home early that morning after working the night shift to find his shed burned to the ground with his wife and children dead inside.

The fire apparently began the previous night or in the early morning hours, but no one called 911. The shed was next to Kraus' home about a mile from U.S. 33 up Crooked Run Road, a single-lane gravel road. The structure was visible from the road, but there are no other homes nearby.

Doug Kraus called for emergency workers around 8 a.m. that morning. Investigators sent the bodies to the state Medical Examiner's Office in Charleston for identification and autopsies.

Investigators sent samples from the fire to the State Fire Marshal's Office lab, but results are not back yet, Cook said.

He said lab tests would help determine if an accelerant was used to start the blaze.

Speaking to the Daily Mail the day of the fire, Cook called the blaze "very suspicious." He said the 15-by-20-foot outbuilding had no utilities connected to it.

Deputy Bobby Ryan of the Lewis County Sheriff's Department is the lead investigator but is being extremely tight-lipped with reporters. He has not released any information since Thursday, Nov. 15, when the department released the names of the dead.

Ryan refused to come to the phone on Monday, saying through a sheriff's department secretary he would not comment on the case.

Family members held a joint funeral for Keira and Kaden on Saturday at the Pat Boyle Funeral Home in Jane Lew, according to obituaries published last week.

David Hardman of Hardman-Paletti Funeral Home in Weston said funeral arrangements for Beth Kraus were not finalized as of Monday evening.

Contact writer Zack Harold at 304-348-7939 or Follow him at


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