An investigation into the death of a man whose body was found earlier this month inside a burned house in Pine Bluff has led to the arrest of a suspect.
Derek Payne, 38, was taken into custody Friday in connection with the death of Christoper Jones, 36, whose body was found in the bedroom of a house at 110 S. Larch St. on June 14. Jefferson County Coroner Chad Kelley pronounced Jones dead at the scene and sent the body to the State Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy to determine the cause and manner of death.
Detective Steven Rucker said in a probable cause affidavit presented in district court Monday that the Medical Examiner notified police June 18 that Jones had been stabbed on the right side of the chest and his throat had been cut. The medical examiner also reported that the cause of death was sharp force injuries to the neck and chest, along with smoke and soot inhalation.
Rucker reported that during the course of the investigation, several witnesses were located who said Jones had been seen leaving the area of West 2nd Avenue and South Bay Street with Payne. One witness said that on June 15, a day after the body was found, Payne told the witness he had been present when Jones died.
The witness said Payne told him that Jones was attempting to start a generator when it blew up, killing Jones.
When Payne was questioned, he signed a form indicating that his rights had been read to him and told Rucker that he had been present when Jones died. Payne said he, Jones and a female were the only ones there and said Jones attempted to start a generator when the generator blew up, catching Jones and the bedroom on fire. Payne denied stabbing Jones or cutting his throat.
Rucker reported that when Payne was confronted with other evidence in the case, he asked that the interview be stopped and said he wanted an attorney.
On Monday, Pine Bluff District Judge John Kearney ruled that prosecutors have probable cause to charge Payne with capital murder and abuse of a corpse. He will be held at the adult detention center without bond.
In October 2015, Payne was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and being a felon in possession of a firearm after he allegedly pointed a gun at another man and fired a shot. That incident occurred on the parking lot of an apartment building at 1020 Linden Street. The alleged victim told police he “felt the bullet go by.”
In 2013, Payne was arrested after allegedly beating and biting a pregnant woman. The alleged victim approached police as they were conducting a traffic stop to say that she had been battered while with Payne in his vehicle. Police reported that the woman’s shirt was torn, she had a bite mark on her arm and scratches on her neck and chest. When Payne was interviewed, he told police the woman tried to jump out of his vehicle and he grabbed her and closed the door to keep her from hurting herself. He also allegedly admitted knowing the woman was pregnant.