Inmate Starts Jail Fire So He Won’t Miss Son’s Birthday Party

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

(Forrest City, AR) A Forrest City, Arkansas man,  already in jail on burglary charges, admits starting a fire in his cell so he could go to his son’s birthday party.

No one was hurt in the fire, but now 22-year old Jonathan Paulman is facing a list of new charges in addition to burglary.

Paulman now faces arson, aggravated assault and criminal mischief charges after St. Francis County Deputies said he started a fire Tuesday night inside his jail cell.

Paulman told deputies he started the fire and planned to blame it on someone else as a way to get out of jail and be home for his son’s birthday Friday.

Tammy Stephens lives in Forrest City and has known Jonathan Paulman for a long time, “He’s a good boy at heart. But he just has a mind to do what it takes to get what he wants.”

She said she has no doubt Paulman started the fire for exactly the reason he gave.

She says she knows how attached he is to his son.

“I believe he loves his son very much. I’m sure that, I mean, I can tell that he does. He talks about him all the time,” said Stephens.

According to the St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department, Paulman got hold of a cigarette lighter and used it to set  a mattress, towel and laundry bag in his cell on fire.

Paulman shared the cell with five other inmates, fortunately no one was injured.

According to the incident report:

“Jailers went to “f” cell…opened the door. And when the door was opened a tremendous amount of smoke rolled out.”

Sue Wright said she considers Jonathan Paulman a son because she took him into her home on Rosser Street in Forrest City when he was down and out.

She always feared something like this would happen.

“Well, it didn’t really surprise me. Me knowing Jonathan, that was his way of thinking,” said Wright.

She believes what happened at the jail could have been disastrous and Paulman should not have tried to blame the fire on someone else, “Cause someone could have got hurt. And to blame it on someone else is not right.”

It’s unknown how old Paulman’s son will be Friday when the child celebrates his birthday, but Paulman won’t be there.

Investigators want to know how Paulman got hold of that cigarette lighter.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Latest News

More News