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Rural Alaska

Priest found in burned Chefornak home died before fire, troopers say

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  • Updated: October 19, 2016
  • Published October 19, 2016

A priest whose body was found in a Chefornak house fire a week ago had died before the fire began, Alaska State Troopers said.

Troopers released an updated dispatch Wednesday on findings by the State Medical Examiner Office in the death of 72-year-old Theodore Kestler, whose remains were discovered in a home that burned in the Western Alaska village on the morning of Oct. 12. Nome radio station KNOM reported that Kestler was a priest who had overseen a church in St. Marys.

"(Medical examiners) determined that Kestler died of natural causes prior to the fire starting," troopers wrote. "The fire marshal's office determined the cause of fire to be from candles that were lit inside the home."

No foul play is suspected in Kestler's death, troopers wrote.

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