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Man charged with murder, arson for death of Ithaca woman, police say

Ithaca Police have made an arrest in the suspicious death of a person whose body was found Tuesday morning, which they have now ruled a homicide.

Ithaca Police have made an arrest in the suspicious death of a woman whose body was found Tuesday morning, which they have now ruled a homicide.

Police say Michael Davis, 45, of Ithaca has been charged with second-degree Murder and first-degree Arson for the death of Josie Berrios of Ithaca.

Berrios' body was found just before 7 a.m. in a building on the 200 block of Dryden Road. Police said their investigation into Berrios' death led them to Davis, who they say had "a personal relationship" with Berrios.

Davis was arrested late Tuesday night and arraigned in Ithaca City Court, police said. He has since been sent to the Tompkins County Jail without bail, according to authorities.

The felony complaint against Davis alleges he killed Berrios, but does not say how. The felony complaint alleges Davis brought a can of gasoline to the building where Berrios was found dead, along with a lighter. When Berrios' body was found it has sustained apparent burns and the gas can was found at the scene, according to the felony complaint.

Police are seeking the public's help as the investigation continues. "The Ithaca Police Department would like to speak to anyone who may have seen someone walking or hitchhiking on Ellis Hollow Road, Turkey Hill Road, or Ellis Hollow Creek Road between 5:00 am to 6:00 am yesterday, June 13, 2017," police said in a release Wednesday afternoon.

While discussing the case, Officer Jamie Williamson said he had interacted with Josie before her death and complimented her character. "Through going on the Commons and walking around downtown. I've interacted with Josie numerous occasions," Williamson said. "She was always just a character. Very charismatic, always joking around with her friends. She was just a beautiful person."

Ithaca Police had previously stated that the victim was a male, but in their release announcing the arrest police clarified that the victim self-identified as a female.

"We're choosing to honor the victim's choices in life and her beautiful life in honoring her self identification as that of a female," Officer Williamson said. "We ask that the community join us as well."

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