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Bledsoe man has suspicions about mother's death

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BLEDSOE COUNTY, TN. (WRCB)   --  A Bledsoe County man's suspicions about his mother's death are growing. A woman's body was found in her home nearly two weeks ago.

The state medical examiner has not made a positive identification on the body, but family members tells Channel 3 the victim is 63-year-old Hazel Reece.

According to the district attorney's office, Reece had recently filed an order of protection against her estranged husband.  She was supposed to testify against him before a grand jury the morning of the fire.   

Authorities have not yet called Reece's death a murder, but her son has some suspicions of his own.

This week Bron Reece found out his mother changed the beneficiary on her life insurance policy just two weeks before her death.

"I think that's very suspicious," says Reece.  "Two weeks and four days before something happened to her she changed her policy without telling any family."

The weeks since his mother's sudden death have been difficult for Reece. 

"She was always just a phone call away," he says. "That'll never happen again." 

In July Hazel Reece's trailer home was found burned to ground. 

"It definitely looks suspicious to me and my family," says Reece.

Investigators found the back of Reece's car packed.  She told family member she was planning on going to a shelter.  She had recently filed assault charges and an order of protection against her husband.    

"Mr. Reece has been interviewed and will probably be interviewed again," says Bledsoe County Sheriff, Jimmy Morris.  "Mr. Reece has been more than cooperative." 

But the order of protection and assault charges against his father is not what's troubling Reece.  Instead, it's a letter he got in the mail concerning his mother's life insurance policy. 

"I called the insurance company," he says.  "I found out half of it was to someone I don't know, and have never met." 

Two weeks before her death, Hazel Reece changed on her policy.  She named her son and another man, Roger Allen Harsh, as 50 percent beneficiaries.

"I thought that was very strange," Reece says.  "She never mentioned that." 

Roger Harsh declined to talk on camera, but over the phone told Channel 3 he meet Hazel Reece when she came to his place of business.  Harsh said she confided in him that she was afraid to go home, and he tried to help her.

The Bledsoe County Sheriff's Office wouldn't comment about Harsh and whether or not he's is being interviewed in connection with the case.  Bron Reece says it's all more than a little strange.   

"As far anyone benefiting from my mother's death, it's me and him," he says.  "We're the only two, and I know it wasn't me." 

Bron Reece says his father even agreed to take a polygraph test, although the sheriff's office won't comment on that.

State investigators are also working this case along with the medical examiner in Nashville.

This weekend Hazel Reece's family will hold a memorial service for her in Pikeville.

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