Investigators working to determine if explosion that killed man was purposeful or accidental
POSTED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 2:00am
UPDATED: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 - 2:04am
PONCHATOULA, LA — The State Fire Marshal was called to investigate the death of a man after he was killed from an explosion and fire at his home in Ponchatoula. Officials say the man shared the home with his “adopted father,” who is actually his same-sex partner.
Firefighters were called to put out the blaze on Friday, June 21 at roughly 5:00 p.m. It happened at a home located on Renee Drive.
After putting out the blaze, firefighters located a body believed to be that of Elphage Joseph “Kirk” Scioneaux, III, who is the “adopted son” of the homeowner, Elphage Joseph “EJ” Scioneaux, Jr., 68.
Kirk is a native of Taiwan and first came to the United States nearly 20 years ago on a student visa. In May of 1998 he became acquainted with EJ after meeting in a local nightclub. Shortly thereafter they became involved in a same-sex relationship and in January of 2002 “EJ” Scioneaux legally adopted “Kirk” Scioneaux. According to EJ, the purpose of the adoption was to afford Kirk “legal rights and privileges.”
EJ describes their relationship as “close” and said that Kirk Scioneaux had, over the years, become his “caretaker.” EJ suffers from poor health and requires regular medication and treatment.
State Fire Marshal investigators recovered Kirk’s remains and launched an investigation to figure out what sparked the explosion. They spent two days sifting through the rubble and debris.
Investigators learned that a “heated exchange” occurred between EJ and Kirk roughly 45 minutes prior to the 911. EJ confirmed he and Kirk were engaged in an intense argument concerning a renovation project at the home, which had been ongoing for roughly eight months.
According to EJ they frequently argued, but he characterized this argument as being more intense than previous ones. In an attempt to defuse the confrontation EJ told investigators he left the home and went shopping. Investigators were able to confirm that EJ in fact left the residence as he claimed.
Investigators believe Kirk spread an ignitable liquid throughout the home and set it on fire. It is unclear, however, whether he intended to end his own life, or if the explosion was an accident that resulted in his death.
The investigation is ongoing at this time. Dental records are being examined to positively identify Kirk’s remains.