The Fire That Started It All: Unraveling the Clarence Roberts Case

The Fire that Started it All:  Unraveling the Clarence Roberts Case

From Reporter to Author:  The Journey of a self-taught  Newspaper Journalist

A Web of Deceit:  The Unraveling of the Clarence Roberts Misidentification

Murder or Coincidence? The Four Mysterious Deaths Surrounding the Victims

Unsolved Mysteries:  The TV Episode That Captivated the Nation and Several newpapers in Europe who made a trip to interview this young Reporter

Beyond the Headlines:  Why “Murder, Relatively Speaking” is a Must-Read


The Fire that Started it All:  Unraveling the Clarence Roberts Case.

Clarence Roberts Fire


The mysterious death of 52 year-old World War II Veteran and former Sheriff Clarence Roberts and still unsolved case began in November 1970 during a cold, wintry day, that left two men dead in the garage of Mr. Roberts’ home front.  His wife, Geneva Roberts, had gone to a fish sandwich shop in nearby Columbus for their supper.  Geneva had left the fish sandwiches for Clarence.  At the end of the day, the Roberts’ garage would be found blazing merrily while Geneva was visiting the older of their four sons.  It was at his home just outside Nashville, that she could be found when police from various agencies, including the Indiana State Police, traced her down to advise her of the home fire.  She gave a surprised exclamation when told her husband was now dead in the fire, and the fish sandwiches were gone.  Despite that knowledge, Geneva spent the entire night after she was told of her husband’s death at a hospital in another city close by because she was diabetic and just felt she might have an attack of diabetic reaction. The owner of local funeral home knew Clarence well and asked where his masonic ring was since it had not been found under the man’s body nor under a large board under him.  They were told the ring was not the one he was wearing most often.

From Reporter to Author:  The Journey of a self-taught Newspaper Journalist


The reporting of this fire was done by a neophyte reporter, a young woman and mother of two sons, on her first assignment.  For the past two years, she and a woman shared rides to a nearby Job Corps Center discussing the fire and the finding of not one, but two men, in the fire debris.   One of the men’s bodies was identified by Jack Bond, a state certified coroner, as Clarence Roberts. He had seemingly done well for himself and his family, running a successful hardware store and owning an apartment building and investing in several grain elevators.  But his finances were apparently not as they seemed.  As it would turn out, whoever it was, had died from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning, rather than from a gunshot wound or even the fire itself. 

Swiss Bank Accounts and Million Dollar Life Insurance Policy

A few months prior to the mysterious fire, it would turn out he had purchased a million dollar life insurance policy, naming his wife, Geneva, as the beneficiary.  He was also rumored to have $100,000 in a Swiss Bank Account, but this could never be confirmed.

New Job and New Directions

The young woman had decided to leave the Job Corps Center where she had worked as an executive assistant.  She was asked what she wanted to work at next and told her friends she wanted to work in a newspaper.  She was hired by the local newspaper’s publisher as a receptionist upon hearing that she knew how to operate an electronic typesetter.  The electronic typesetter had been purchased several months previously but not used because no one on staff knew how to use it so they continued to use the linotype hot metal process.  The publisher was happy to hear she knew how to operate the machine from a previous job.  Later that day she was hired to start work the next day.  Five days later, after demonstrating her abilities, she was named general manager over all the other employees as their supervisor.  Another week would lapse, and she would look to read a message on her desk left there by her publisher.  “This next issue is yours, we are on vacation, do your best, try and we will see you later.” The young reporter filled eight pages of news.

A Web of Deceit:  The Unraveling of the Clarence Roberts Misidentification

This new young reporter, businesswoman, was now experienced in several other attributes of working in a local, weekly paper.  She had been writing obituaries on a weekly basis and writing a few personal reports on the op/ed page that the public seemed to like to read. 

Many other columns she had never liked to read were deleted and substituted with other content.  The one reason why our newspaper was picking up subscribers so quickly was because the author/storyteller, had been assigned by the publisher to take over the reporting of the Clarence Roberts case to try to decipher the various changes that were being found and made public due to this reporter.  One person most involved and interested in this reporter was Geneva Roberts.  She came into the newspaper office about twice a month trying to submit ‘letters to editors’ and would only talk to me. I finally told her we could not keep running the same letters two or more times every month.  Her final act was to ask if I would be her “friend” and this was overheard by the publisher.  That was when I was assigned to the Clarence Roberts case exclusively. Geneva would not let any other reporter from any other media take her picture or interview her without their asking permission from me.  Certainly, I would not allow that.  This was the ‘exclusive’ of my lifetime and I recognized that, as did our publisher.

Murder or Coincidence? The Four Mysterious Deaths Surrounding the Victims

It seemed like the solving of the Clarence Roberts Case would never come to an end.  By this time, a total of four people had been found dead, the second ten years later in November, 1980.  The same scenario, two people found dead after a fire at the Geneva Roberts home, with the second person being about a 42-year-old male according to an EMT who came to my car after the fire to give me the first explanation that could be given to anyone. Within 2 or 3 days, the man in the second fire was again declared Clarence Roberts a second time by the same pathologist to his own embarrassment.  By that same time, Clarence Roberts would be about 68 years old, not 42 as I was told the day of the fire.  More mystique to unravel. Was this actual? Coincidence? Or more sinister?  Had he faked his own death or taken his own life?  So many unanswered questions remain.  This time, the body of both fire victims were cremated and buried, each in two different cemeteries.

Unsolved Mysteries:  The TV Episode That Captivated the Nation and Several Newpapers in Europe who made a trip to interview this young Reporter.

The hit television program Unsolved Mysteries was for sure interested in the mystery and came to the county and talked with the young reporter on the program as a friend of Mrs. Roberts.  The Hollywood program spent about a week taping scenes around the county, even burning older buildings to recreate the deaths of this one family.  Were they murdered then incinerated to remove evidence?  It is possible.  Several weeks after the TV show was completed, the grandson of Clarence and Geneva Roberts appeared in the office of the reporter to show her the masonic ring that had been found under the man who was identified as his grandfather, but the ring had never been ID’d publicly as belonging to Clarence Roberts.  His own parents had saved it and given it to him as, by this time, he had become an older teen. This news about the ring was never publicized to my memory.

The Author’s Unwavering Dedication:  A Deep Dive Into the Reporter’s Career

During the entire time the reporter worked at the Newspaper, the Clarence Roberts Cases were looked at from several different possibilities.  She analyzed all the news stories that had been printed which may have had an answer or contained a clue that was being overlooked entirely by other less determined investigative reporters or officials.  She found quite a few areas the police were slack about endeavoring to listen to clues that might have been found by the young reporter.  Not once was she asked more than a few questions that could/should have been looked at more.  They were ignored and to the knowledge or the reporter, never looked into.  Each clue or tidbit of information she gave to the lead police investigator coincided with times in the past 20 years or more that included their touching with the Roberts family.  When this book was written, the author asked the state trooper to proofread this novel.  She was surprised at the possibilities that were overlooked.

Overlooked Clues - But Not By Everyone

But both she, and the county sheriff who had known me about 50 years, agreed that the things that were overlooked made more sense than what the reporter had discovered but made more sense to each of them.

But both she and the county sheriff agreed that the clues to the case made more sense given the clues they had overlooked but which she uncovered and shared with them.


Beyond the Headlines:  Why “Murder, Relatively Speaking” is a Must-Read


Discover her unique narrative style, captivating storytelling, and the real-world impact of “Murder, Relatively Speaking” that will make it a must-read for true crime enthusiasts.”  Can you choose a better answer to the fires and arsons and murders than the one this storyteller has put together?

Conclusion:  Prepare to be enthralled by “Murder, Relatively Speaking” as it takes you on a riveting journey through a real-life case filled with mystery, suspense and surprising revelations.  Don’t miss out on this unforgettable read that will leave you questioning what you thought you knew about true crime.  Grab your copy today and embark on an unforgettable literary adventure.

Murder, Relatively Speaking








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