Family of Kalamazoo man killed in suspicious fire searches for answers


    Family of Kalamazoo man killed in suspicious fire searches for answers

    The family of a Kalamazoo man killed in a fire holds on to hope for justice after 31-year-old Zach Hayes was killed in a house fire that police have ruled as suspicious.

    Eyewitness told police they saw two people leave the home right before the fire broke out. Police said they considered the fire and death suspicious, but investigators aren't offering any further information.

    "He never did anything to hurt anyone," said a close family member of Hayes.

    There are questions that remain about what happened to Hayes right before his body was discovered inside his burned-out Wallace Avenue home early Sunday.

    The Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner's office performed an autopsy on Hayes's body on Monday.

    "There was no way Zach fell asleep with a cigarette or something like that. They set the fire, they killed him, that's all there is to it," said Albert Holderman, Hayes's neighbor.

    As the police investigation continues, neighbors said eyewitnesses saw two people leaving Hayes's home moments before the fire started.

    A close family member, who didn't want to be identified, said the two people seen leaving before the fire broke out left with Hayes's dog and the dog has yet to turn up.

    "I can't shake the anger we feel right now until is justice is served," said the family member.

    Hayes, a native of Iron Mountain, Michigan, moved to Kalamazoo a few years ago to help his family with maintenance on rental properties.

    "He would never not help someone if they needed it. He went out of his way to be nice to people, he was a real Yooper, he cut trees, he worked in the woods," said the family member.

    Many neighbors grew close to Hayes, and loved him like family.

    "He was my best friend. He had my back, no matter what," said the family member.

    The fire marshal has worked to figure out what caused the fire.

    Anyone with information is urged to contact the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety at 269-337-8120.

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