A man appeared in court charged with the murder of Hartlepool foster mother Norma Bell.
Gareth Dack made a 10-minute appearance at Teesside Crown Court via videolink from Holme House Prison, Stockton.
No indication of plea was given by Dack, who spoke only to confirm his name and address.
The body Ms Bell, 79, was found in her home in Westbourne Road, Hartlepool, on April 2, following a fire.
Police launched a murder inquiry after a post mortem examination found Mrs Bell did not die as a result of the fire.
She had lived in the house for 27 years, and had fostered more than 50 children, as well as having three of her own.
Dack, 32, of Windermere Road, Hartlepool, was arrested last Friday.
Judge Stephen Ashurst adjourned the case for a pre-trial preparation hearing on May 10.
Dack was remanded in custody.