THEODORE, Ala. (WALA) - When Matthew and Alice Benischek bought a home with four acres in Theodore back in August, it meant a whole new world for them.
"It's basically everything. This is where we were making a start," said Matthew Benischek.
The couple lived here with their 16-year-old son, a dog and a cat; but on Monday morning, their livelihood vanished in a matter of minutes.
While the family was out, burglars broke in through the back door and stole TVs, video game systems, guns and all the presents under the tree.
Fire officials told the family the suspects took a deep fryer that was located in the kitchen, and they brought it over to the master bedroom where they then dumped the oil on the bed and lit it on fire. The fire was so hot it burned a hole through the floor.
"I'm just thankful my family wasn't ... We were all gone and not home. It could've been worse than that, but I don't have a home anymore," said Alice Benischek.
Just about everything inside is destroyed.
"OK, come break in my house, take my belongings. I can replace them. But then you burn my house? It's Christmas. I wonder how they would've felt if they didn't have a home to go to to spend their Christmas with their family," said Matthew.
The dog and cat were trapped inside the house as it lit up in flames. The dog survived, but sadly, the cat didn't.
The holidays are a time to reflect on all the blessings the year has given them, but this family will reflect on what they've lost in just a day.
"It took us ten years to get to this place. We got to start all over again with everything," said Alice Benischek.
The State Fire Marshal's Office said this is an active investigation.
The couple is being housed at a motel while their 16-year-old son is with his godfather.
The family is pleading for any information you may have on whoever did this.
If you know anything, call the Mobile County Sheriff's Office at 251-574-8633 or the State Fire Marshal at 1-800-654-0775.
If you'd like to help out the Benischek family, a relief fund has been set up at Wells Fargo. Simply make a donation at any Wells Fargo bank under the 'Benischek family benefit fund.'
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