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Records reveal details in blaze

South Boston Police are continuing an investigation into an apparent home invasion that occurred late on Sept. 16 at the home of 34-year-old Joshua Hollandsworth of 800 Marshall Ave. in South Boston.

According to South Boston Police Capt. B. K. Lovelace, authorities have been unable to track down the two black males Hollandsworth said broke into the home, robbed him at gunpoint, tied him to a punching bag and set his two-story woodframe house ablaze.

Hollandsworth, owner of the new seafood restaurant on North Main Street — The Happy Oyster on Main — was alone in the house at the time of the fire, according to authorities.

He managed to escape the burning house, but his dog perished in the blaze.

After conducting interviews with Hollandsworth and his girlfriend, authorities said they have had no new leads, and the investigation remains at the same place it was several weeks ago.  

State police arson investigators also are assisting South Boston Police with the investigation.

At the time of the fire and robbery, authorities described the two suspects as being 6-foot tall and weighing approximately 185 pounds and 5-foot, 8-inches tall and weighing between 160 to 180 pounds.

According to an affidavit for a search warrant filled in Halifax County Circuit Court on Sept. 16, Hollandsworth told South Boston Police Cpl. Julianna Berry that someone had entered the residence and robbed him of his money, zip tied him to the punching bag and then set the house on fire.

Hollandsworth later told South Boston Detective Randy Redd two people wearing facial masks entered the house, with one of them brandishing a handgun.

According to Hollandsworth, one of the assailants hit him in the face with a closed fist and demanded money. Hollandsworth informed Redd that he gave the assailants approximately $1,000, according to the affidavit.

While still brandishing a firearm, the assailants demanded more money from Hollandsworth “or they would kill him,” Hollandsworth told Redd.

“In fear of his life,” Hollandsworth told Redd he went to another part of the house where he kept additional money and gave it to the assailants, the affidavit said.

After giving the money to the two assailants, Hollandsworth told Redd he was zip tied to the heavy punching bag and told to stay down.

“Hollandsworth said he could hear what he believed was the pouring of gas in the house by the two people who robbed him and tied him up,” the affidavit continued. “Hollandsworth indicated … he realized the house was on fire at which time he was able to make his way to one of the doors where he exited the house.”

Cpl. Berry told Redd that where she found Hollandsworth in the yard was on the same side of the house where Hollandsworth indicated he was able to exit from, the affidavit stated.

In a second search warrant executed Sept. 19, authorities seized a piece of black plastic and a black box with coins melted into the inside of the case.

In a third search warrant executed Sept. 19, authorities seized wood cut from the porch floor.

“While executing a search warrant…, Special Agent Robert Allen Cox of the Virginia State Police noticed what he believes may be items indicative of arson based on his training and experience,” the affidavit stated. “The aforementioned item appears to Cox to be the melted remains of a plastic flammable liquids container, based on its consistency and outline left by the item in a burned area.”

On Thursday, Lovelace said he could not confirm whether Hollandsworth, the operator of The Happy Oyster on Main Street, in South Boston, had closed the restaurant since the incident.

However, Thursday afternoon, no lights were on in the business, the door was locked, no open signs were in the window or door, and chairs were stacked on the tables inside the restaurant. 

The police captain also said he could not confirm whether Hollandsworth had move from the South Boston area.