Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

March 19, 2014

Police: Suspect said he set fire

Evansville man told officers he set a jacket on fire in apartment hallway.


Kokomo Tribune

---- — EVANSVILLE (AP) — A man charged in connection with an apartment building fire that killed a woman, her young daughter and a second adult told authorities he set the fire, police said in an affidavit released Tuesday.

The probable cause affidavit said Christopher Compton said he set a jacket on fire in a hallway of the building Monday and a lighter was found in his possession. The affidavit did not reveal why he set the fire.

Compton once had been in a relationship with a woman who lived at the building, Evansville Police Department spokesman Sgt. Jason Cullum told the Evansville Courier & Press. Compton was asked to leave by a man who lived at the address shortly before the fire started, Cullum said.

Compton faces three counts of murder and four counts of arson and was being held without bond. He will face an initial hearing on Monday. It was not clear whether Compton has an attorney.

The Vanderburgh County Coroner’s Office said Tuesday the fire killed Keri A. Jones, 28; her daughter, Jazmine Jones, 3; and Donald Lankford, 76. All three died from smoke inhalation. Their bodies were found in an upstairs apartment in the converted two-story house.

Police were led to Compton by an acquaintance of the man who encountered him at a bus stop, the affidavit said.

The acquaintance, Earling George Iverson III, said he noticed smoke coming from a nearby building and mentioned it to Compton, who said, “I did that,” the affidavit said.

Iverson said he asked Compton if children were in the building, and Compton said some were there, the affidavit said.

“Don’t tell the police,” Compton told Iverson.

Iverson immediately notified an officer and pointed out Compton nearby, the affidavit said.

Collum said no other arrests were expected.

Authorities say four people jumped from a second-story window to escape the blaze, and three of them were hospitalized. Two were airlifted to an Indianapolis hospital.

Compton spent about two years in prison for battery, according to the Indiana Department of Correction. Collum said Compton had been arrested several times for public intoxication, and that he was stabbed in the head with a knife on March 1. Collum said there’s no apparent link between the stabbing and the fire.

He wasn’t sure whether Compton lived in the neighborhood, which is located in an old part of the Ohio River city of about 120,000 people.