Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 14, 2012

Arson suspect in Effingham house fire makes first court appearance

Bill Grimes
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — An Effingham man denied setting a fire last week that heavily damaged a Fayette Avenue rental home occupied by his ex-girlfriend.

    “I have no reason to burn somebody’s house down,” Bryan K. Jones said Tuesday during his first appearance in Effingham County Circuit Court.

    Judge Ericka Sanders found probable cause to hold Jones on one count of residential arson, a Class 1 felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison. The judge set bond at $150,000.

    Jones asked to be released on his own recognizance immediately after bond was set, but Sanders denied the request.

    Jones is accused of setting a fire Friday that caused $40,000 in damage to a rental home at 701 W. Fayette Ave.

    Effingham County State’s Attorney Ed Deters said an Effingham police report alleges Jones had been harassing ex-girlfriend Valerie Bosley in the days before her house caught fire.

    “He told her she better break up with her current boyfriend or he would kick his a—,” Deters said.

    Deters said a neighbor told Effingham police Detective Scott Volpi that Jones had been seen walking away from the home shortly before the fire was noticed. The prosecutor also said that an acquaintance told police that Jones admitted setting curtains in the Bosley home on fire.

    The acquaintance also told police, Deters said, that Jones told her later that he didn’t mean to cause that much damage to the home.

    Deters said Jones told Volpi that he had been smoking before going into the home and dropped his cigarette butt in a trash can. The prosecutor added that Jones changed his story several times during his interview with Volpi.

    Deters also said that Jones is already on two years probation for a domestic battery charge that he admitted to in August. The prosecutor said Jones also has convictions for theft, violating an order of protection, criminal damage to property, aggravated assault, fleeing and eluding police and battery, all since 2004.

    Sanders told Jones she would appoint a public defender to represent him. Jones told her he receives a disability check.

    Jones’s first appearance with counsel was set for 10 a.m. Nov. 27.

    Bill Grimes can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 132, or at bill.grimes@effinghamdailynews.com.