A suspect has been arrested for two fires in Jones County just a block apart, one of which destroyed a house, deputies told NewsChannel 12.
According to investigators, Patrick Leo Mahoney, 54, of Trenton, was arrested on Sunday and charged with several felonies, including second-degree arson, burning certain buildings, burning personal property, and breaking and entering. He was being held in the Jones County Jail under a $30,000 secured bond.
Mahoney allegedly set two fires in Trenton within 24 hours. The first blaze happened at a pack house at 799 Plantation Road Friday night, investigators said. The second fire erupted at a home at 476 Stones Chapel Road around 1 p.m Saturday. Both that house and a pickup truck parked in the driveway were destroyed, deputies said.
According to investigators, one of the victims in the fires is a church member who had helped the suspect in the past.
"We were trying to help him because he was homeless," said Jessica Browning, whose late grandparents lived at the burned-down house on Stones Chapel Road. "We let him stay in the church while it was cold. There was just something weird about him. Shady stuff was going on with him all of the time."
"It's unfortunate when a community opens up its arms to a person and they are repaid in such a foul manner," said Sheriff Danny Heath. "Hopefully, the citizens in the Plantation Road area can sleep a little easier, knowing that the person responsible for these fires is now behind bars."
Danny Thomas lives a few feet away from the fire on Stones Chapel Road. He said the house that caught fire used to belong to his parents. His brother, Frank Thomas, had left his pickup truck parked in the yard.
"I looked out the window, I heard something pop like a door [being] shut," said Danny Thomas. "I looked out the window and I [had] seen my brother's truck on fire and I come out here and the house was on fire."
Frank Thomas said the flames not only burned down the house, it destroyed precious memories stored inside.
"Mom and dad just passed last year," he said. "So all their pictures, family Bible, I had some of my guns in there, just a bunch of stuff. The main thing was my mom and dad's stuff that can't be replaced."
Danny Thomas said the fire that erupted the previous day already had him on edge.
"I was scared because of the fire [Friday] night," he said. "They had one last night, now this happens. My brother was here. He had been [been] gone an hour and I came out the house and it was burning from the porch."