Nathan Bowe, Forum News Service, Published January 03 2014
Bail set at $1 million in Ponsford murder case
Charles James Jones, 48, made his first appearance Thursday in Becker County District Court.
He is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in the death Monday of Shalonda Sioux Clark, 35, who was asleep on a sofa when he allegedly set fire to the house at 29486 County Road 129 in Ponsford.
She died of asphyxiation by carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a preliminary report by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office.
Jones remains in custody at the Becker County Jail pending his next court appearance Jan. 13.
The fire was reported at 4:41 p.m. Monday. Firefighters from Carsonville and Wolf Lake were dispatched to the scene.
According to court records, when Becker County investigators arrived, they found two people, Julaine Butcher and Austin Sip, both repeatedly yelling "Shalonda" in the direction of the house.
Flames were coming from the window and door openings, and the interior of the house was fully engulfed in flames.
Investigators learned that Jones could be found at a house a short distance away.
One investigator immediately went there, and found Jones sitting on a couch, covered in what appeared to be black soot, court records say. His hair was singed and the jacket he was wearing appeared to be burned. He also had a large blister on his right cheek and ear and smelled heavily of smoke.
The investigator asked Jones where he could find Clark. Jones said she was in the burning residence on the couch, court records say. He allegedly admitted starting the fire while she was sleeping.
He was arrested and taken to the Becker County Jail.
The investigation is being conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, State Fire Marshal's Office, White Earth Police Department and Becker County Sheriff's Office.
Jones has several prior convictions, including fifth-degree domestic assault, fourth-degree intentional damage to property and fifth-degree controlled substance crime.