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Bail, court date set for Ponsford man

News Park Rapids,Minnesota 56470
Park Rapids Enterprise
Bail, court date set for Ponsford man
Park Rapids Minnesota PO Box 111 56470

BY nate bowe


Bail was set at $1 million with conditions, or $2 million without conditions, for a Ponsford man accused of setting the house fire that killed his girlfriend.

Charles James Jones, 48, made his first appearance Thursday in Becker County District Court. He is charged with two counts of second-degree murder and one count of first-degree arson in the Dec. 29 death of Shalonda Clark, 35, who was asleep on a sofa when he allegedly set the house on fire.

According to court records:

When Becker County investigators arrived, they found two people, Julaine Butcher and Austin Sip, both repeatedly yelling “Shalonda,” in the direction of the house.

Flames were coming from the window and door openings and the interior of the house was fully engulfed in flames.

The investigators learned that Jones could be found  at a house a short distance away.

One investigator immediately went there, and found Jones sitting on a couch, covered in what appeared to be black soot. His hair was singed and the jacket he was wearing appeared to be burned. He also had a large blister on his right cheek and ear and smelled heavily of smoke.

She died of asphyxiation by carbon monoxide poisoning, according to a preliminary report by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Jones remains in custody at the Becker County Jail pending his next court appearance, at a Jan. 13 Rule 8 hearing.

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