VOLUSIA COUNTY, Fla. (TCD) -- A man was sentenced to life in prison this week for killing a friend in 2017 whose property he lived on.
On Aug. 27, 2017, Tracy Adams was set on fire and ran into her DeLand home where her children were and yelled the suspect, Bernard Thomas, "tried to kill me," the Florida State Attorney’s Office for the Seventh Judicial Circuit said. Investigators responded to the scene and reportedly concluded that a bottle of gasoline was thrown at Adams while she sat inside her vehicle.
Adams’ vehicle was engulfed in flames, and the fire spread to the roof of her residence, the Attorney’s Office said. Thomas reportedly shot Adams in the shoulder, but she ultimately died from complications due to burn injuries.
According to the Attorney’s Office, Thomas lived in a gazebo on Adams’ property for approximately a year and was a "close friend" of her family.
Investigators identified Thomas as a suspect by using cellphone tower mapping, the Attorney’s Office said. He allegedly called Adams more than 30 times over a seven-day period, but no calls were made to the victim after the incident.
On Jan. 12, the Attorney’s Office announced that a jury found Thomas guilty of first-degree murder, first-degree arson of dwelling, and first-degree arson of occupied vehicle. Thomas also reportedly pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm by a felon. The Attorney’s Office said he was sentenced to life in prison for the first-degree murder charge and 30 years for arson.
State Attorney R.J. Larizza said in the statement, "The brutal nature of this crime shocks me. This murder was the act of a depraved and vicious man. His cruelty knows no bounds."