SPANISH SPRINGS — Neighbor Cindy Howald said she’s been sleeping with all the lights lit in her house since the home of Pamela and Harry “Skip” Grund were burned to death in an apparent homicide inside the garage next door to her Spanish Springs house last Saturday.
“It’s kinda creepy,” Howald said as she stood on her concrete steps outside her door.
The Grund’s home now stands boarded up, showing signs that the garage is gutted by fire that quickly engulfed the interior of the two-story, four-bedroom home in the quiet neighborhood filled with larger, well-kept homes.
Howald was home with her son when she first smelled a cloud of chemical stench fill her backyard, she said. She and her son, who recently were barbecuing outside, went to investigate. When they found nothing unusual, they peered over the fence and witnessed flames bursting from the neighboring home.
The two then went out front and saw the garage filled with fire as flames shot out every open crevice, she said.
Then, they heard popping sounds, as if firecrackers were exploding inside the garage, she said.
“To me, it sounded like firecrackers, like small explosions,” Howald said. “The garage was shut, which was a bit unusual for them. When they’re home, the garage doors are always open.”
Howald described the Grunds as a a friends couple with two older daughters who lived on and off with the Pamela, 57, an Harry, 61.
“They were really friendly people,” Howald said.
Apaprently, Pamela had two other daughters who Howald had never seen, though she lived at the home 14 years. The Grunds purchased their home at 9040 Spanish Trail Drive, in 2003. Pamela Grund reportedly worked for the Reno Gazette-Journal.
Reno Fire Department responded quickly to the fire with several crews, but not in time to save the two inside the garage, said Reno Fire spokeswoman Michelle Anderson.
“”this is an ongoing investigation once we have further info we will make sure we release that,” Anderson said. “It’s still an active investigation. We absolutely responded with four man crews,”
Reno Fire Department is one of the last departments of its kind in the area able to enter a home because of the size of its crews to initiate a rescue operation. All other surrounding fire districts only have three-man crews and could not have entered immediately to look for victims.
The fire investigation has been completed and must complete reports, Anderson said.
However, because of a situation having to do with something that occurred inside the garage, Washoe County Sheriff’s Office detectives are involved in the investigation as well. The case has been ruled a homicide.
“The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office Detectives Division is conducting the investigation relating to suspicious circumstances in the death of two adults, one male and one female, at a residence on the 9000 block of Spanish Trail Drive in Spanish Springs on Saturday, May 19, 2012 at approximately 6:03 p.m.,” said sheriff’s spokesman Deputy armando Avina. “Sheriff’s detectives are investigating this as a homicide, however, they do not believe there was another party involved. The Washoe County Sheriff’s Office is advising that the public should not be fearful of an outstanding suspect as this investigation appears to be an isolated incident.”
When questioned further about the circumstances and why the incident had been ruled a homicide, Avina became adamant that no further information would be reported.
“It’s an ongoing investigation and the disposition of the case has not been determined. While completing a thorough investigation, we are mindful of the decedents family and friends,” Avina said.
The fact that the sheriff’s office has kept so many details from the public has made neighbors and Howald suspicious.
“We’re kinda wondering, too, what they know,” she said. “It’s kinda strange that if they know what happened, why they just don’t tell us?”
Howald said if the incident did involve a murder/suicide, she said it would be uncharacteristic of the couple.
“If that is what it was, a murder/suicide, it’s very tragic,” she said. “Maybe (the police) just don’t know at this point. It’s really tragic whatever happened over there. They were so friendly and nice. They were not weird, ever. There was never any hollering or anything like that.”