A Minnesota father has been charged with murder after allegedly setting his mobile home on fire with his 22-year-old daughter inside after the two got into an argument about her plans to move out, prosecutors said.
John Newport, 46, was charged Thursday night with second-degree unintentional murder for the July 23 fire, which left his daughter, 22-year-old Jamey Newport, dead. Prosecutors allege Newport was outside when he intentionally set the fire after getting into an argument with his daughter about her intention to move out.
If convicted, Newton faces a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison.
According to the criminal complaint filed in Stearns County District Court, Jamey Newport called dispatchers Tuesday evening claiming her father was “threatening to start a fire” in their Paynesville home about an hour outside of Minneapolis.
“Initial reports indicated a male was pouring gasoline inside the trailer and started it on fire,” according to a Paynesville Police Department news release.
Prosecutors allege that shortly before the fire, Newport posted on Facebook that he intended to “burn down the mobile home.”
Firefighters responded to the house around 7 p.m., the complaint states, and the 22-year-old was heard “screaming, yelling for help and saying she can’t get out” from inside the fire “engulfed” home, according to the complaint.
While Newton was restrained outside to “prevent any further injury,” firefighters struggled to enter and eventually “kicked open the door and deployed the fire extinguisher in hopes to knock down the flames.” After subduing the flames, firefighters found the 22-year-old inside the bathroom, the complaint states.
Authorities immediately rushed Jamey Newport to Paynesville Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Her father was taken to another local hospital and treated for “some injuries” before going to Stearns County Jail.
According to the complaint, police found evidence of fuel inside the home and a gas can near the front door. A lighter was also allegedly found on the ground outside the home.
The Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office told The Daily Beast that Newport died of “inhalation of products of combustion” and that her death was ruled a homicide.
“I wanna say it was a freak accident,” Jamey’s mother, Tonya Watts, told local news station KARE11.
Watts said her daughter was a “dedicated environmental advocate” who volunteered with the Conservation Corps. Most recently, she was an employee at Casey’s General Store, a worker confirmed to The Daily Beast.
Watts attended Newport’s court appearance on Thursday, where his bail was set at $2 million.
“He looked at his daughters and said he was sorry, that he loved them, and that he tried to get their sister out,” Watts told the news station.
It was not immediately clear if Newport has an attorney. His next court appearance is set for August 5.