Police believe house blaze started deliberately as part of murder suicide

By Calvin Palmer

Police believe the fire in a Staten Island apartment house, in the early hours of yesterday morning, where a mother and her four children were found dead was started deliberately.

A note with the words “am sorry” was found today.

Initially, fire officials did not believe the blaze was suspicious but police are now working on the theory that it was part of a murder-suicide committed by the 14-year-old son, CJ Jones.

A razor was found underneath his body. He slit the throats of his two sisters — Brittney, 10, and Melonie, 7 – and then slit his own.

The boy’s mother, Leisa Jones, originally from Trinidad, was also found dead in the apartment.

Only the youngest child, two-year-old Jermaine, was still alive when firefighters arrived at the blaze in the Port Richmond neighborhood.

He was taken to Richmond University Medical Center, where he died. His throat had not been cut.

The slash wounds on the three bodies were discovered as investigators worked their way through the charred remains of the house, said Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman.

Investigators found the bodies of the mother and two girls in the living room. CJ’s body was close by, slumped over a bed in a back bedroom. A straight razor was under his arm.

His 2-year-old brother, Jermaine Sinclair, had been rushed out by a Fire Department lieutenant who pushed his way into the apartment. Jermaine’s throat had not been cut, an investigator said, but he did not survive.

Investigators believe murder-suicide is “the most viable” explanation, but they are still waiting for the results of the autopsies.

One investigator who wished to remain anonymous said that investigators had ruled out “all possible accidental sources of ignition”.

“The blaze was no accident,” he said. “That fire was intentionally set. It ranks up there in some of the more heinous acts we’ve seen.”

Browne said that workers with the parks department had ejected CJ from a Port Richmond pool on Wednesday for lighting a fire.

[Based on reports by The New York Times and Associated Press.]

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