MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A man has been charged with murder after police say he poured gasoline inside a Paynesville mobile home and started a fire. His daughter died in the blaze.
Authorities say John Sean Newport, 46, of Paynesville, faces one count of second-degree murder while committing arson. He made his first court appearance Thursday.
According to the criminal complaint, a 22-year-old woman, later identified as Newport’s daughter, called police Tuesday evening and said someone was dumping gasoline in the home. She began screaming, yelling for help and saying she couldn’t get out of the trailer. Dispatch then lost communication with her.
Officers responded to the arson call shortly before 7 p.m. at a trailer in the 400 block of Minnie Street. When police arrived, the trailer was fully engulfed and they learned the woman was still inside. An officer repeatedly tried to knock down flames with a fire extinguisher, but the heat and smoke became overwhelming.
Police say Newport had broken a window and was yelling at his daughter inside. Officers restrained him as he tried to enter the home. He was covered in soot and had blood on his arms and hands.
Firefighters arrived and began extinguishing the fire. Crews found the woman in the trailer’s bathroom. She was transported to the hospital, where she died of “inhalation of products of combustion.” Her manner of death is listed as homicide.
Neighbors and friends identify the victim as Jayme Newport. Those close to her say she was very caring, loving and always wanted to make people laugh.
“I thought she was sweet, a nice girl, you know,” neighbor Judy Ramthun said.
Neighbors said she was like a mother to her sisters. She always put others problems before her own, and always knew just the right thing to say.
“I’m going to miss her calling me the lady of the home, and seeing her every day with her smile, you know, and the talks and the hugs,” Ramthun said.
Investigators found a gas can inside the home and lighter on the ground outside. Officials say evidence indicates John Newport had been in an argument with his daughter around the time of the fire. Officers found a Facebook post in which he expressed intent to burn down the trailer.
Neighbors say the fire burned hot and fast and the people and pets inside had no chance of getting out. The family had two adult cats and three kittens. Only one cat was able to get out.
John Newport’s bail is set at $1 million with conditions and $2 million with no conditions. His next court appearance is set for Aug. 5.
The investigation is ongoing.