Donna Creer, a major influential figure in the gospel music industry, died in her bed early Wednesday morning along with her husband, Donald Creer, after a suspected arsonist set fire to their home.
The Creers were found dead in their bedroom at their 405 Markwood Road home in Little Rock, Ark., after firefighters responded at 3:11 a.m. to the blaze, according to Little Rock Police Department spokesman Sgt. Cassandra Davis.
Davis told The Christian Post Wednesday that the Creers were found dead on the scene and were transported to separate hospitals. It was not immediately known why Donald Creer, 51, was taken to St. Vincent Infirmary Medical Center and Donna Creer, 57, was received at Baptist Health Medical Center. Both husband and wife were declared dead on arrival.
Although an official cause of death has yet to be determined in both cases, pending autopsies, Sgt. Davis said their deaths were being viewed as suspicious. The bodies of the victims reportedly did not show any visible signs of injury. Sgt. Davis declined to share further information on the case as the investigation is ongoing.
Fire department officials informed the police department that upon their arrival, they had discovered an unlocked sliding glass door at the rear of the home. Officials have yet to determine what might have occurred inside the home at the time of the deadly fire, and have not named any suspects or a motive in the case.
Sgt. Davis was unable to provide information on the extent of damage the Creers' home suffered due to the fire and where exactly in the home the fire might have been set. The Little Rock Fire Department did not respond to The Christian Post's request for comment by press time.
Donna Creer, inducted into the Broadcasters Hall of Fame, is credited with impacting the gospel music industry through a career that saw her direct programming at several faith-based Arkansas radio stations. She also served as president of the Arkansas Gospel Announcers Guild and second vice chair of the Gospel Announcers Guild of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. Most recently, Creer was serving as an executive director at Magnet Schools of America, an organization representing 2,000 magnet schools across the U.S. Creer had previously served as president of the organization.
Creer and her husband, reportedly a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, did not have any children, according to a close friend.
News of the couple's death was a shock to supporters and colleagues, many of whom shared their grief online Wednesday.
"Donna Creer was a mover and shaker in the Gospel music industry!" Grammy and Stellar Award-winning producer Kevin Bond wrote upon sharing the news on Twitter. "Life is precious (treasure it)."
Entertainment journalist Jawn Murray wrote, "Sad to hear of the passing of a friend, one of the wittiest women I've ever known (and) a true diva."
"So sorry to hear of the passing of Donna Grady Creer – she was a great woman and a major light in the Gospel industry – will miss her," added Dr. Teresa Hairston, founder and publisher emeritus of Gospel Today Magazine.
Grant Jenkins, family ministries program director at Cross Point Church in Nashville, Tenn., tweeted, "Shocked and saddened at the news of the passing of my friend Donna Creer. She was the real deal and will be missed."