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Helmut Schmidt, Published December 31 2013

Man charged with murder, arson in Ponsford fire

PONSFORD, Minn. – A Ponsford woman is dead and a man faces second-degree murder charges after a house fire Monday, the Becker County Sheriff’s Department reported Tuesday.

Charles James Jones, 48, is being held at the Becker County Law Enforcement Center in the death of 35-year-old Shalonda Sioux Clark, the Sheriff’s Department reported.

Jones, of Ponsford, is charged with second-degree murder with intent (not premeditated); second-degree murder without intent while committing a felony; and first-degree arson (dwelling), the sheriff’s department reported.

Clark died of asphyxiation by carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a preliminary report by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s office.

The fire at 29486 County Road 129 was called in about 4:41 p.m. Monday, Sheriff Kelly Shannon said.

When deputies arrived at the scene, they were told Jones was at a residence a short distance from the burning home. They were also told that there was a person missing and possibly still in the burning home, which was fully engulfed when emergency response personnel arrived, Shannon said.

When deputies found Jones, they saw he had burns on his body and clothes. He was arrested on a preliminary charge of suspicion of arson, Shannon said.

“We know he definitely was involved in the fire,” Shannon said.

Firefighters put the blaze out about 7 or 7:30 p.m., Shannon said.

Clark’s body was found in the burned home about 8 p.m., he said. Because her body was so badly burned, it was taken to the Ramsey County medical examiner for positive identification and to determine how she died.

“We’re assuming Jones and the victim knew each other,” Shannon said.

An investigation is being conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the state fire marshal, White Earth Police Department and the Becker County Sheriff’s Department.

The Carsonville and Wolf Lake fire departments responded to the blaze.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583