Police investigating Warren fire as homicide

WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Police are now saying the two people found dead after a house fire in Warren were murdered.

According to public records obtained by WKBN, Charlie McNear petitioned for a protection order against another man on Wednesday. He said he feared for his life.

City police are now looking to see if that protection order can lead them to his killer. McNear, 53, and his girlfriend, Sophie Stepek, were found dead just after 11:30 p.m. Friday inside 448 Ivanhoe Ave. N.E.

The Trumbull County Coroner said the two were shot to death and then their Warren home was sent on fire. Police are trying to see if the protection order and the murder are connected.

“We are looking into that. If there was a protection order and if so, whom and why” Warren Police Lt. Jeff Cole said.

McNear, who owned the home, was granted the protection order in Warren. He told the courts he was being physically and verbally abused and wrote he was “scared he will hurt me.”

It is not known if police are looking at that man as a suspect in the case, and because of that, WKBN is not reporting his name.

A 911 caller reported hearing “popping” sounds before the fire broke out. Warren Fire Chief Ken Nussle said firefighters did not know what they were walking into.

“We don’t zero in on that. We think it’s a fire, maybe there was an aerosol can or whatever,” Nussle said.

The fire was set in two different locations: Inside and outside the house.

Nussle said the first body was found about 6 to 8 feet inside the doorway and the other victim was on the couch in the living room.

The Ohio state fire marshal and the Trumbull County Coroner are helping Warren police and firefighters with the investigation.

“We thought that there was something other than a fire. That is why our detectives were called out to the scene initially,” Cole said.

Police are asking anyone with information to come forward.

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