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Vacant Broken Arrow home where five Bever family members were killed burns in overnight blaze
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Vacant Broken Arrow home where five Bever family members were killed burns in overnight blaze

Vacant residence where five were killed ignites overnight

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BROKEN ARROW — The two-story vacant home where five members of the Bever family were murdered in 2015 burned early Saturday in a blaze that tore through the structure.

Broken Arrow firefighters responded about 3:30 a.m. Saturday to the 700 block of Magnolia Court on a call of a structure fire. First-responders reported the home was fully engulfed in flames upon arrival.

Firefighters gained control of the blaze around 4:30 a.m., according to a news release. Crews remained on scene at 9:30 a.m.

Broken Arrow Fire Capt. Derek Fulps said it was too soon to say whether the fire is considered suspicious. Three investigators were on scene after sunrise sifting through the rubble to make a determination as to what sparked the flames.

No injuries were reported.

Fulps said he and his team took over from the first-responding crews at 7 a.m. He said they found a few hot spots and some safety issues to handle to help investigators do their work.

Neighbor Maggie Jacobsen said she had “never seen something on fire” as much as the Bever home had been Saturday. She said firefighters did a good job taming the flames and protecting adjacent homes.

A friend staying with Jacobsen and her husband first woke up to see crews attacking the flames. Jacobsen said the fire dredged up memories of how she woke up in a similar fashion to a large emergency response the night of the Bever killings 20 months ago.

“This is actually kind of hard,” Jacobsen said.

The home recently has been the subject of a fundraising effort by Broken Arrow City Councilor Mike Lester to purchase the home, demolish it and turn it into a memorial park.

A conceptual drawing shows a gazebo surrounded by a garden designed to attract monarch butterflies during their migration. Lester established a nonprofit account though the Tulsa Community Foundation. Donations can be made at tulsacf.org to the Bever Family-First Responders Memorial Garden Fund. Alternatively, checks can be made out to the same fund and mailed to Tulsa Community Foundation, 7030 S. Yale Ave., Suite 600, Tulsa, OK 74136.

Lester previously has said if enough money isn’t raised by April 7 then the property will go on the open market, meaning it will cost more and require additional fundraising.

The property’s 2016 market value was $266,482, according to online Tulsa County appraisal records. The land was valued at $37,960, while the improvements to it were listed at $228,522.

The appraisal records show Fannie Mae foreclosed on the property in September.

Police arrested brothers Robert and Michael Bever in July 2015 in a nearby wooded area after officers found the bodies of the brothers’ parents and three siblings inside their home. Two siblings — one of whom was critically wounded — survived the stabbing attack and now are living with a caregiver.

During a preliminary hearing in February 2016, detectives testified that Robert and Michael Bever plotted for at least a year to kill their family and then flee Oklahoma to carry out mass shootings in other states. The pair were 18 and 16 years old, respectively, when the killings happened.

Robert Bever, 20, took a plea deal in September and avoided the possibility of capital punishment. He was sentenced to consecutive life-without-parole terms on five murder counts, as well as life in prison on an assault charge.

On the same day, a judge entered a plea of not guilty for Michael Bever, 18, who is awaiting trial. He isn’t eligible for the death penalty because he was 16 years old when the stabbings occurred.

Corey Jones

918-581-8359

corey.jones@tulsaworld.com

Twitter: @JonesingToWrite

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Staff Writer

I am a general assignment reporter who predominately writes about public health, public safety and justice reform. I'm in journalism to help make this community, state, country and, ultimately, world a better place.

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