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Teens Charged In Murder Originally Thought To Be Just Arson

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WINTER HAVEN (CBSMiami/AP) — Two Central Florida teens are behind bars and facing some very serious charges.

Authorities arrested the two teens for the murder of a man who investigators originally thought had died from an accidental fire.

The Polk County Sheriff's Office said in a statement that the teens, ages 18 and 16, were arrested Saturday.

They face first-degree murder and robbery charges for the death of 67-year-old Donald Merkley last month.

The State Fire Marshal's Office originally thought a fire at Merkley's home in Winter Haven, Florida was accidental and caused by an electric heater.

A sheriff's office report says Merkley was choked and hit in the head during a sexual encounter.

The 18-year-old was identified as Jerry Johnsey. The Associated Press typically doesn't identify a minor charged with a crime.

The teens were held without bail and couldn't be reached for comment.

(TM and © Copyright 2017 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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