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‘Dangerous’ arson suspect arrested had criminal past

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CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) - Petersburg fire marshals arrested William H. Jones III, 47, Wednesday night in the parking lot of the Petersburg Police Department.

He is the man police said set a Chesterfield home on fire, according to Chesterfield County Fire and EMS Lt. Jason Elmore.

Three children, ages 17, 14 and 11, inside the house when the fire started made it out alive.

"Jones had recently stayed at the residence and is known to the victims," police said.

Chesterfield arson

William Jones III is wanted for arson (PHOTO: Chesterfield Police)

The children told Chesterfield investigators Jones walked up to the Ravensbourne Dr. home, kicked in the door and threw a device. That device contained an accelerant that helped the fire spread, investigators said. The device was likely on fire when it was thrown into the home, Lt. Elmore added.

Investigators searched for Jones in the woods around the home off Hickory Rd., in southern Chesterfield County, but did not initially find him.

"Investigators have obtained warrants for Jones for arson and threats to bomb or damage building," police said.

CBS 6 has learned that Jones does have a criminal past.

In 2010, Jones was arrested and convicted on two burglary charges and was sentenced to forty years in prison.

But 37 of those years were suspended, meaning Jones was lawfully on the street Wednesday.

"Anytime someone is convicted of a felony there almost always going to have a suspended sentence," CBS 6 legal analyst Todd Stone said.

Stone added however that if Jones ends up having anything to do with what police say happened Wednesday, expect all that suspended time to be reinstated before any trial regarding any new charge takes place.

"A suspended sentence is always conditioned on good behavior so if you violate any of those terms you can serve any amount of that suspended term," Stone added.

Elmore said Jones had a relationship with someone living in the home, however details of that relationship were not yet being released. That person was not home at the time of the fire.

The fire was reported at 9:18 a.m. It took crews about 34 minutes to bring the fire under control, Lt. Elmore said. The house is considered unlivable due to the fire damaged it suffered.

This is a developing story.


    • Anna

      Generally if the throw him under the jail it means he will be there a long time, it is a very old and wise saying….

    • LAE

      If you are going to complain about spelling and grammar, it is always a good idea to make sure your sentence is flawless. Full sentences and capitalization counts too.

  • shawn

    wow,so a guy does this and manages to escape in the woods.Chesterfield police should be proud.He will be caught probably by the state police soon hopefully

  • Wendy

    What’s wrong is the media. He had his fifteen minutes of fame and didn’t care at what cost that might have been at. If people would stop being interested in all the ugliness of the world, then the media would stop relaying it and focus on the good and then, that in turn, would not prove a ‘fifteen minute of fame’ spot for these mentally challenged people that seem to have no morals or decency.

  • drew

    Here is what I would like to know. When will this station find a writer with a grasp on grammar. This has been going on for a while now. There is a difference between there, their and they’re. This is like the fifth story in two weeks with a glaring grammatical error. Time to fire writers and editors.

  • drew

    Oh, and by the way, Todd Stone’s quote did not state “expect all that suspended time to be reinstated before any trial regarding any new charge takes place.” He stated CAN and ANY, not MUST and ALL. Pure laziness and lack of any comprehension.

  • shawn

    wow he had a criminal past,now theres some news.we could have assumed that much.PC bull has gotten old.Oh and could this have been obamas son,too old?ok

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