A fire-obsessed 14-year-old Staten Island boy is suspected of the unthinkable – setting his home ablaze as he murdered his family and then slitting his own throat with a straight razor.
Investigators believe C.J. Jones cut the throats of at least two of his younger siblings on Thursday, then ended his own life as the tidy apartment went up in flames.
C.J. was found in the back bedroom of the modest Port Richmond apartment, a razor filched from his mother’s hairstyling kit lodged under his body, the sources said.
His three younger siblings and mother, Leisha Jones, lay dead steps away in the living room.
“You’d think only a monster could do this, not a little boy,” said Chandra Franklin, 29, a family friend.
“He was a troublemaker when he was younger but we thought he grew out of that. He was the man of the house,” she said. “I don’t know why he did this, he must have been going through something no one could see.”
At first, investigators did not think the fire was suspicious. Then they examined the badly burned bodies and realized C.J.’s sisters – Brittany, 10, and Melony, 7 – had had their throats cut, the sources said.
The dead girls were found in the charred living room near their brother, 2-year-old Jermaine, and the body of 33-year-old mom Leisha Jones.
Jermaine died at the hospital. Investigators think the little boy and his mother – found facedown as if she was crawling to the door – died of smoke inhalation.
The three-alarm blaze tore through the second-floor Nicholas Ave. home at 4:15 a.m. and firefighters fought through a wall of flames to find the bodies.
Investigators believe the fire was set just inside the front door, possibly to prevent rescuers from entering the home, sources said.
Detectives are not certain what led to the bloodbath, stunning for its brutality and the young age of the killer.
Investigators were zeroing in on the teen’s recent rash of unstable behavior, sources said.
C.J. was kicked out of summer classes at Intermediate School 72 after igniting a fire in a bathroom, and he clashed with his mother, a security guard at Macy’s on Staten Island, after setting fire to a bathroom towel at home, neighbors and sources said.
Hours before the inferno, C.J. was spotted igniting pieces of paper outside the family’s Nicholas Ave. home as his siblings rode bicycles and drank apple juice.
The teen also had been ejected from nearby Faber Pool that afternoon for setting a fire, the sources said. Staffers at local pools, however, did not remember a boy setting a fire.
“He wasn’t an evil child,” said stunned neighbor Shaquawna Meaders, 25. “He loved his brother and sisters [and] he was a happy-go-lucky kid.”
“[He was] the man of the house,” Franklin said. “He took care of his sisters like a dad.”
“He never let anything bad happen to them,” she said.
No one else in the building was injured. The apartment did not have a smoke detector, which is mandated by law, officials said.
The device must be provided by the building’s landlord. The landlord at Jones’ building, Albert Morcos, is on vacation in Egypt, residents said.
Stunned by the deaths, relatives and friends mourned Leisha Jones, whom they applauded as a model mother.
“My family, my family!” wailed Marcia Anderson, Leisha Jones’ mother.
“She was such a nice person and she was a really good mother,” said a weeping Anderson. “She loved her kids … and I loved her.”