Bodies of sisters removed from Lyerly, investigation into cause begins

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 14, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The bodies of the two sisters who were inside Lyerly Funeral Home when a blaze destroyed the building Friday afternoon have been recovered.
Brent Lyerly, president of the funeral home, said the bodies of Effie Leazer Stiller, 91, and Marie Leazer Miller, 84, have been placed in new caskets and the funerals set for today will proceed.
The visitation and service for Effie Stiller originally set to take place at Lyerly will now take place at the chapel at Rowan Memorial Park off U.S. 601, said Sondra Stiller, Effie’s daughter in law. The visitation will be from 12:30 to 2 p.m. and the service will begin at 2 p.m.
Miller’s visitation will still be held at Beulah Land Baptist Church 5435 Wildwood Road, as planned with starting at 4 p.m. The service will begin at 5 p.m.
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The State Bureau of Investigation’s Arson Investigation unit joined investigators from the Rowan County Fire Marshall’s office and Salisbury Police Department as they worked to determine a cause of the fire this morning.
“It’s normal for the SBI to be called in on a commercial building fire of this size, it’s part of our procedure,” Salisbury Fire Battalion Chief David Morris said.
Morris said it will likely be 24 to 48 hours before the cause is pinpointed.
“It depends on how quickly they are able to work their way through the debris,” he said.
There is no indication of foul play, Morris said.
“Everything points to accidental,” he said.
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An antique car, believed to be destroyed by flames, was pulled from the debris this morning.
“That is the first vehicle the funeral home bought new in 1959 after we opened in 1957,” Lyerly said. “It’s been taken to storage until we are back up and running.”
But Lyerly was quick to point out the 1959 Ford panel truck was simply that, a vehicle.
“That’s a material thing so it’s irrelevant, he said.
Lyerly said he plan to continue business as usual, likely working out the funeral home’s crematory that sits yards away from the charred main building.
“The phones has been forwarded to our answering service,” he said. “We’re still in operation, I want to assure everybody that we are going to service their needs.
Read the complete story in Sunday’s Post.
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.