One confirmed victim at scene of mobile home fire, homicide investigation underway

A mobile home fire on Northside Road on Sept. 23 was investigated by the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office as an arson and murder scene.

A 36-year-old man on parole for fatally shooting a woman in 2006 was charged Friday with murder and arson in connection with a Victoria house fire.

Nathaneal Reuben Chipps was charged with first-degree murder in the death of Loren Nichole Chacon, 36, of Victoria, and arson in the Sept. 23 fire at 1181 Northside Road in northern Victoria County.

The arrest comes just over two weeks after a house fire law enforcement officials thought was set to destroy evidence of Chacon’s death. Chacon was found dead in the home.

Chipps was arrested on a warrant charging him with parole violation the day after the house fire. He had been in the Victoria County Jail since then, according to online jail records.

It was unclear Friday what condition of Chipps’ parole was violated that led to his most recent arrest by deputies.

Chipps was residing in the Northside Road trailer home at the time of the fire, said Will Franklin, chief deputy with the Victoria County Sheriff’s Office. Chacon was not living there.

Franklin said the evidence recovered from the home led to Chipps as the primary suspect. He declined to detail that evidence, saying it could hurt the case, which he said will go before a grand jury in the coming weeks.

Franklin said the connection — or lack thereof — between Chipps and Chacon is unclear and is part of their investigation.

He declined to answer questions about a motive, also citing the ongoing investigation.

There were no other suspects in the case as of Friday, Franklin said.

In 2007, an Aransas County jury found Chipps guilty of manslaughter for the 2006 firearm death of a 35-year-old woman, according to court records. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison and was out on parole when he was arrested the day after the fire. Franklin said the arrest was done by deputies without incident.

In March 2020, Chipps was accused of assault causing bodily injury to a family member, a Class A misdemeanor, in Victoria County, according to court records. That charge was dropped after the woman retracted her initial allegations and then refused to cooperate further with prosecutors in the case, said Victoria County District Attorney Constance Filley Johnson, whose office prosecuted that case.

“Unfortunately, under those circumstances, continued prosecution was not viable, and the case was dismissed,” Filley Johnson wrote in an email.

That woman was not Chacon, the woman found dead on Sept. 23, according to court records.

Murder and arson are both first-degree felonies that, if convicted, are punishable by 5 — 99 years in prison. In addition, up to a $10,000 fine for each of the charges can be assessed.

Franklin thanked the emergency fire responders who were dispatched to the fire on the morning of Sept. 23. If the fire had been allowed to burn for longer than it did, it could have destroyed more evidence.

“Their quick response and their firefighting efforts to preserve that crime scene helped immensely … had we not had that timely response, it would have been a very difficult crime scene to process,” Franklin said.

Chipps remained in the Victoria County Jail Friday afternoon on a combined $500,000 bond, according to online jail records.

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Chase covers breaking news, crime and courts for the Advocate. He can be reached at 361-574-1286, crogers@vicad.com or at @chasedrogers.

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Breaking News & Public Safety Reporter

Chase writes about crime and courts for the Victoria Advocate. He grew up in the Dallas–Fort Worth area before attending Texas State University, where he earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication and journalism.

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