Man sets fire to house; commits suicide

- Posted on Aug 25, 2010 - 03:50 PM

A distraught man took his own life early last Thursday morning, after starting a fire in his wife’s house on New Point Comfort Highway, south of the Port Haywood Post Office, according to investigator Bill Riley of the Mathews County Sheriff’s Office.

Stephen A. Jones, 50, formerly of New Jersey, apparently doused most of the house in diesel fuel, as well as two sheds, setting all three structures on fire, Riley said. Then, the man took a 20-gauge shotgun and ended his life.

Mathews firefighters were called to the scene shortly after 3 a.m., finding one shed fully engulfed in flames and a second also on fire, Riley said. The firefighters entered the house, where they found Jones in the den/living room already dead, the investigator said.

Riley said that Jones and his wife were separated. He had been staying at her home in Mathews, while his wife stayed with friends in Gloucester, Riley said. The night before, Riley said, Jones had dropped off some items at a neighbor’s house for his son.

The Mathews Volunteer Fire Department responded to the scene with six engines and one truck. Damage to the house was considerable, although not a total loss, Riley said.

Foul play is not suspected in the death, Riley indicated.