Man charged with murder, arson after North Memphis house fire

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A 56-year-old man was charged with murder after police said he intentionally set a North Memphis house on fire over the weekend.

The Memphis Fire Department responded to a house fire Sunday in the 1100 block of Gerard Street in North Memphis.

While trying to contain the blaze, firefighters found a man inside who was suffering from second-degree burns and smoke inhalation. He was rushed to the Regional Medical Center’s Burn Unit, where he later died.

According to investigators, the fire was intentionally set at multiple spots inside the home.

Jerry Lee Sanders was arrested and charged with aggravated arson and murder.

Jerry Sanders

Investigators said Sanders was also living at the house that burned down.

Neighbors said before the fire, Sanders was displaying some concerning behavior.

“He used to walk and talk to himself all the time, but we just thought he was weird,” one neighbor said.

Looking back on Sanders’ history, he has a local criminal record dating back to 1982 with 35 cases in Shelby County.

He’s also on the Tennessee Sex Offender Registry as a violent offender after he was convicted of attempted rape in 1992.

But neither the Shelby County criminal justice portal, nor the sex offender registry show Sanders living on Gerard, even though he had been in the area long enough to become a familiar face.

“He never bothered anybody, but he would just stand there and just stare at you,” another neighbor said.

Authorities have not released the identity of the man who died in the fire.

Sanders is being held without bond and is due in court Tuesday.

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