The deaths of two women found in a burning house on Harden Road Wednesday were ruled a murder and suicide.
Kiona Thais Lively, 27, shot Naumbyia T. German, 26, several times before setting German's body and the house on fire, said Statesboro Police Chief Stan York.
Then, Lively "took her own life with a small caliber firearm," he said. "This crime apparently occurred during a domestic dispute between the two females who were romantically involved."
The women, who considered themselves married since a ceremony in Toronto, Canada in March, 2007, lived together in the Harden Road home with German's mother, who suffers from Huntington's disease, said Statesboro Police Capt. Scott Brunson.
German's account on www.facebook.com showed several photos of her and Lively during the marriage ceremony.
York said Lively took German's mother to a hotel around 3:30 a.m. Wednesday, possibly to remove her from the environment surrounding the domestic dispute. Police later found her unharmed and "unaware of anything which transpired at the ( Harden Road) residence after she was removed ..." he said.
Brunson said the deaths occurred in the early morning hours, but it was around 9:45 a.m. before a passerby noticed smoke and called 911.
Statesboro Fire Chief Dennis Merrifield said the fire likely "self-extinguished" and reignited, much like a campfire might do.
The fire damaged the kitchen and other areas of the home. Statesboro firefighters responding to the initial fire call discovered Lively's body in a bedroom while extinguishing the flames and immediately called Statesboro Police, he said.
After police arrived firefighters cleared the home of smoke so police detectives could conduct an investigation. They later discovered German's body in the bathroom, Brunson said.
Autopsies performed on Lively and German at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Coastal Crime Lab in Savannah revealed German suffered multiple gunshot wounds to her body, and burns to her body after she died.
Lively died from a single gunshot wound to the chest, he said.
Friends of both German and Lively were shocked at the news of the murder/suicide.
"We grew up together, went to school together," said Simone Jenkins, her voice choked with tears as she spoke about German. "She was my little sister."
Nicknamed "Pooh," German was "so sweet and so good," Jenkins said. "Her only fault was she fell in love with the wrong woman." Jenkins said Lively and German had been in a troubled relationship for some time, and German wanted out not only for her sake but for her mother's, "because of all the fighting and arguing."
But Lively did not want the relationship to end, she said. "She wouldn't let her leave."
Jean Watson said she had just seen German Sunday.
"She was such a happy person, and for this to happen just after ... I'm just heartbroken."
Sherry Ellis, who worked with Lively at Statesboro's Bi-Lo some time ago, said Lively was "very likable." She said Lively was the godmother to another Bi-Lo employee and was well-liked and respected.
Lively had a web site on which she stressed the importance of friends and family.
Lively had a masters degree in criminal justice from Georgia Southern University, Jenkins said. A former intern at the Statesboro Police Department, she was employed with the Georgia Department of Corrections, Brunson said.
Jenkins said German, who graduated from Gordon College, worked in Statesboro as a counselor.
Watson said German had a masters degree from Georgia Southern University in counseling education and was employed with Pineland Mental Health as a drug addiction counselor.
Persons answering telephones at Pineland Thursday said they could neither confirm nor deny German's employment at the facility and director June DiPolito was not immediately available for comment.
York said the case is considered cleared by the Statesboro Police Criminal Investigations Division and no charges are expected. The case will be forwarded to the Ogeechee Judicial Circuit District Attorneys office for further review, he said.