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The FBI is offering up to $2,500 for information leading to an arrest in a murder on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in October.

The victim, 24-year-old Raymond Charles Waters Jr., was found dead inside a burnt mobile home in Allen on the morning of Oct. 16.

“Investigation revealed Waters had been deceased prior to the fire. The fire may have been an act of arson to conceal the crime,” according to an FBI poster released Thursday. It appealed to the public for help in “identifying the individual(s) responsible for the murder.”

The bureau is asking anyone with information on Waters’ death and the fire to call its Rapid City office at 343-9632.

In March, the victim’s uncle and owner of the burnt mobile home, Nathaniel “Thomas” Waters, was charged with being an accessory after the murder and lying to federal investigators. Thomas, 45, pleaded not guilty to the federal charges.

Court records in Thomas’ case show that an autopsy of Raymond found that the young man, better known as Ray, died before the fire. The examination found also that Ray had two horizontal skull fractures and neck lacerations, and that the injuries were likely caused by an ax.

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Thomas’ indictment states that a juvenile has been charged with second-degree murder in Ray’s death. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, who is prosecuting the case, didn’t respond to whether they were seeking an additional suspect or suspects but said nobody has yet been charged with burning the mobile home.

Thomas is accused of helping the killer evade authorities and of telling an FBI agent he was at home sleeping when the fire happened around 6 a.m. Investigators reportedly discovered through Thomas’ cellphone location information that he had been at various locations in the hours leading up to the fire.

Being an accessory after a federal crime carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison; making a false statement, five years. Waters is detained at the Pennington County Jail, and is tentatively scheduled for trial in June.

There were three homicides on the Pine Ridge reservation in 2017, according to the FBI. One murder has been reported on the reservation so far this year.

Contact Tiffany Tan at tiffany.tan@rapidcityjournal.com.

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Cops and Courts Reporter

Cops and courts reporter for the Rapid City Journal