A man whose burned body was found in his Birmingham home had been bound by his hands and feet and beaten over his face and head.
Police said Mark Clarkson may have been still alive when his house was set on fire. Firefighters found the body of the 48-year-old trussed up on the floor in a downstairs room at his home in Copperbeech Road, Quinton.
They discovered it as they tackled flames ripping through the property on Saturday afternoon. Yesterday detectives branded his murder “an appalling crime”.
Det Chief Insp Tim Bacon, who is leading the hunt for his killer, said: “We know that Mark had been attacked, he had been assaulted and received injuries to his head and face. His hands and feet had been bound.
“This was an appalling crime in which a defenceless man had been left in his home address which had been set on fire.
“There are still to be further tests to be done around the cause of death. We know that he died as a result of what happened in the house but the exact cause of death is still being investigated.”
He said it was possible that Mr Clarkson was unconscious but still alive when the house was set on fire.
The last known sighting of Mr Clarkson was at about 3pm the day before when he went shopping at the Select and Save store, on Court Oak Road.
It is though he walked home at about 3.15pm but police have no idea what happened to him between then and when his body was found in the fire
Detectives said they were keeping an open mind about a motive for the killing.
Mr Clarkson, who was a well-educated man and had previously held a number of responsible positions, had to be identified through his fingerprints.
Mr Bacon added: “We are investigating whether robbery or theft from the premises was a motive or whether he has been involved in an argument or fight that has escalated with someone he knows.
‘‘Clearly, we have to accept that there may be other reasons for what has happened that we are not aware of but which have played a part.”
Forensic tests were continuing at the house involving forensic scientists and specialist fire scene investigators.
Checks were being made on possible phone calls made by Mr Clarkson and house-to-house inquiries in the area are on-going.