Disabled Woman Killed In Henning, TN House Fire

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(Henning, TN) A fire that killed a disabled, bedridden woman in Henning, Tenn., is being called an accident.

The victim, 63-year-old Dorothy Newbern, suffered from multiple sclerosis and was unable to escape the fire that destroyed her home Thursday night on Virginia Street.

Johnathan Crowell, her live-in boyfriend who was also her caregiver, left the home shortly before the fire and walked to a nearby store.

He returned to find the house burning and Newbern trapped.

Newburn had been confined to a wheelchair for more than a decade.

Newbern's cousin, Rosalind Palmer, lives across the street from the burned out home.

"I heard popping noises and sirens and stuff. And when I looked out the window the house was inflamed," said Palmer.

Crowell left the house around 8 p.m. Thursday and walked to the Dollar General store a few blocks away.

In the time he was gone, the fire started in the kitchen.

An investigator with the Tennessee Fire Marshal's office found one of the knobs on the stove in the 'on' position.

Rosalind Palmer said the fire appears to have been an accident.

"I just think it was carelessness on his part. And it's just horrible for anyone to die like that," said Palmer.

Before firefighters got on the scene, Crowell used two fire extinguishers and a garden hose to try to put out the fire.

He cut his hand breaking out a window to try to reach Newbern, who died in one of the bedrooms.

The fire is being called a "tragic accident" and Johnathan Cowell will not be charged with a crime.

Henning, Tennessee Police Chief Joe Ferguson said he's trying to get assistance for Johnathan Crowell, who not only lost a friend, but everything he owned.

"We're trying to get him some help from the Red Cross. Right now the man doesn't have a home. He's on medication, doesn't have his medication. We have to go through a lot of red tape to get his medication replaced," said Chief Ferguson.


  • Warren Newbern

    I want justice for my aunt. This was no accident! If, the Henning police department did a thorough investigation into his background would have found out above his criminal records and financial problems.

  • Rosalind Palmer

    This man is a pathological liar, just ask anyone that knows him. He has been lying for several years about the relationship between him and Dorothy. He has told anyone that would listen that she was his Aunt and he was her caregiver. He moved to Henning from Chicago with Dorothy several years ago to help with her mother. After her mothers death he continued to live there with Dorothy as her live-in boyfriend. I agree that this was no accident! In the beginning, I thought it was an accident but after hearing his lame story, things just don’t add up. I don’t unstand how there were no charges filed against this man.

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