Deadly Blount County house fire ruled arson

Blount County investigators are looking for the person who killed an elderly woman earlier this month.

Firefighters responded February 8 to a house fire on Moman Road in the Horton community, near Snead.{} They found the body of 77-year-old Rhonette Lyles inside her home.

District attorney Pamela Casey said investigators determined the fire was intentionally set.

Greg Compton, one of Lyles' neighbors, is waiting for more information about her death.

"I don't know why anybody would do something like that," Compton said after hearing the case involves arson.

"I don't know if she was robbed or what had happened, if somebody had done arson and her house was on fire and she couldn't get out and burned up to her death."

Investigators have not said if Lyles died before or during the fire.

Compton said he heard some upsetting rumors about her death, which he hopes are not true.

"I couldn't imagine something would happen like this.{} This is horrifying," he said.

Lyles taught second grade at Cleveland Elementary School for more than 30 years.

Seven signs posted at the foot of the driveway prohibit trespassing and fishing, but Compton says Lyles would let you.{} As long as you checked with her first.

"I asked her permission and she wrote me out a permit and gave me the permit.{} Actually came to my house and gave it to me a week later," he said.

Compton fished in Lyles' pond two or three times a week.{} He said she frequently sat outside on her front porch, shucking beans.

"She'd holler out for me and I'd walk up there and talk to her.{} She'd interest me with all the gossip and stuff and then I'd go back fishing," he said.

"She was involved in the church, involved in breast cancer research.{} She raised money for it.{} She was on the go every day.{} She was an outstanding woman."

If you have any information about the fire or the death of Rhonette Lyles, call Blount County Crime Stoppers at 205.274.2746 and leave an anonymous tip.