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Kansas City Scientists Found Murdered In Burning Apartment

Scientists Camila Behrensen and Pablo Guzmán Palma were found murdered after the fire department responded to a fire at their Kansas City, Missouri apartment.

By Megan Carpentier
Killers With Fire: Arson Murders

Two predoctoral researchers at a prestigious Kansas City, Missouri research center were found dead of apparent trauma in their apartment after a fire in their building.

Police were called to the scene of a house fire in Midtown just before 5:00 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 1, after firefighters responded to reports of a structure on fire in the residential neighborhood, Kansas City ABC affiliate KMBC reported. After entering the apartment that was on fire, responders discovered the bodies of two people, who had apparently died of trauma unrelated to the fire.

Homicide, bomb and arson detectives responded to the scene, according to local NBC affiliate KSHB, and the two people were declared dead.

On Monday, Oct. 3, police identified the victims as Camila Behrensen, 24, and Pablo Guzmán Palma, 25. The two were predoctoral scientific researchers at the Stowers Institute for Medical Research, the Kansas City Star reported, having joined Stowers in 2020 from Buenos Aires and Santiago, Chile, respectively.

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Behrensen had earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University Argentina de la Empresa in 2020, while Guzmán Palma earned his Bachelor's and post-Bachelor's degrees from Pontifical Catholic University in Chile, the paper reported. 

“We are devastated by the tragic deaths of two of our predoctoral researchers," the institute said in a statement provided to Oxygen.com. "Our deepest sympathies are with their families at this difficult time."

Photos of victims Camilla Behrensen and Pablo Guzman

That statement described Behrensen as an "avid runner" who dreamed of earning a PhD and forming her own lab. Guzmán Palma was described as "a gentle soul with a true passion for science and biology" who loved movies and live music.

The Kansas City Police Department on Tuesday asked in a statement that "any homeowners/tenants with video surveillance who live in the area to contact our detectives," asking for footage from within a radius of about two blocks in either direction started at 42nd and Oak Streets and starting at 10:30 p.m. on Friday until police were called at 5:00 a.m on Saturday.

Those with information in the case are encouraged to to call KCPD detectives at 816-234-5043. Those who wish to remain anonymous can use the TIPS Hotlines at 816-474-TIPS, submit the tip online or provide information through the department's free mobile app.

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