Body Found In Burning Bookstore Identified As Owner

Friday, September 15th 2017, 6:37 pm
By: News 9

Police are now investigating the death of a local bookstore owner as a murder. Police confirmed the victim was 66-year-old Kelly Hays. Fire crews responded to the burning 30 Penn bookstore on Thursday afternoon.

Police are waiting for the medical examiner's report to confirm how the man died but said the death possibly occurred before the fire was set. The victim’s body was discovered under a large pile of books. Investigators said the books were intentionally set on fire.

We spoke with Hays' niece. She arrived said her loved one's car was still parked in the parking lot while fire crews put out the fire. She is in disbelief that her loved ones death is now a murder investigation.

“There is no good reason,” she said. “There’s just no good reason why this happened.”  

A former attorney and judge, the niece said her uncle operated the bookstore for more than a decade. Through the years, Hays gained a number of faithful customers and did not have any enemies.

“Just genuinely caring and kind,” said the niece.         

A day after the fire, ashes from the blaze blow past the flowers and sign placed by the store's front door, memorializing the beloved owner.

“I hope they catch whoever did this,” she said. “I hope we can get justice for Kelly.”

Detectives are not sure if this was the result of a robbery. At this time, detectives have not been able to determine if anything was taken from the store.