Police open murder probe of retired University of Florida professor found dead in burning home

Police have apprehended a suspect in the death of a retired University of Florida professor who was initially believed to have died in a house fire.

Autopsy results show the professor, 75-year-old Thomas Oakland, had been bludgeoned to death before the blaze consumed his Gainesville home on Wednesday.

Police opened a homicide investigation and began searching for a couple who knew the professor.

Late Thursday, police apprehended 37-year-old Stephen Underwood Jr. in Jacksonville. Underwood had been released from prison Dec. 22 after convictions for fraud and trafficking in stolen property, according to state records.

Gainesville Police spokesman Officer Ben Tobias said the couple had a relationship with Oakland that was "financial." Tobias said he could not immediately elaborate on that.

Underwood had been working as a day laborer.