Fires hit slaying victim's home

June 02, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - South Berkeley County firefighters put out what the fire chief described as two "suspicious" fires in less than 24 hours this weekend at the home of Erika Birdsall, who was killed and whose body was found stuffed inside a sofa bed in Martinsburg, W.Va.

The first fire occurred Saturday morning. The second fire was called in about 2:51 a.m. Sunday after a neighbor spotted a fire inside, Chief Rusty Morgan said.

The firefighters arrived and put the blaze out in a hallway in about 10 minutes, Morgan said.

Firefighters from South Berkeley had been at the house on Saturday morning shortly before 10 a.m. for a report of a fire.


Firefighters put out a blaze in the Vivian Drive home in a rear bedroom and crawl space, Morgan said.

The fires have caused more than $10,000 in damage to the home, Morgan said.

The state fire marshal's office is investigating the two fires, Morgan said.

The two fires were put out quickly and no one was injured, Morgan said.

Fire investigators were interviewing neighbors in the Camelot subdivision located in the south end of Berkeley County to determine if they had seen anything suspicious, Morgan said.

On March 7, Erika Birdsall's nude body was found stuffed inside a sleeper sofa behind the H-Mart convenience store.

A passerby discovered her when he thought about taking the sofa to a friend.

An autopsy later determined she had died of multiple stab wounds.

The home has been unoccupied since the March 14 arrest of Clyde Birdsall, Erika Birdsall's husband, on an unrelated federal weapons charge of being a convicted felon in possession of a weapon.

Birdsall is being held without bond at the Eastern Regional Jail awaiting trial on the weapons charge in federal court.

Although he has not been charged in the slaying, U.S. Magistrate David Core has said Birdsall is a suspect in the death of his wife.

His arrest came when investigators conducted a search of the home and found him there with firearms.

Police also seized blood and other evidence and a crime lab is analyzing it to determine if Erika Birdsall had been killed at the home.

Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely said Sunday night it still has not been determined if she was killed in the house.

She said she was out of town during the weekend and had not heard about the two fires at the Birdsall home.

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