TACOMA, WA – Today Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist charged Jenny Mena, 32, with Arson in the First Degree for starting a fire in her home while her four children were present. She suspected her husband was cheating on her and burned some of his belongings. The defendant was arraigned today and bail was set at $100,000.
“Arson is always dangerous, but especially so with children in the house,” said Prosecutor Mark Lindquist. “The defendant has been charged with arson with aggravating circumstances for endangering the children.”
Around 10 p.m. on December 30, 2012, the defendant piled photographs, a gift box, lingerie and other items on her bedroom floor and set it on fire. The defendant’s four daughters, ages seven to 13 years, were home. The 13-year-old called her uncle in Arizona and told him that her parents got in to a fight and her mother was burning her father’s stuff. The girl told him it was smoky in the house and directed her three younger sisters to open windows and get into a closet. The uncle called 911.
Upon arrival at the home, police saw children dressed in pajamas peeking out of an open upstairs window. They entered the smoke-filled house and found a pile of charred debris on the bedroom floor. Three black marks were visible on the wood floor where the fired started. The youngest girl told police she walked into her mother’s room and saw a box that was “red from fire.” The defendant put out the fire before police arrived.
According to fire department personnel, the likelihood of the home catching fire was extremely high. There was clothing and a bed inches away from the pile of burning debris. A space heater was turned on and there were piles of laundry covering the floors of every room, providing ready fuel. The fire posed an imminent threat to the children, who had taken refuge in a bedroom directly above where the fire was set. A single staircase in the home was the only means of escape other than the second story window.
Charges are only allegations and a person is presumed innocent unless he or she is proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
For more information, please contact Rebecca Stover at (253) 798-4910, [email protected].