Woman sentenced to 20-25 years for attempted murder in 2022 fire

Published 4:28 pm Thursday, August 3, 2023

A 49-year-old woman who tried to burn down a home on Fraley Acres Lane in Gold Hill on July 22, 2022, was found guilty by a jury in Rowan County Criminal Superior Court of felony attempted first-degree murder, felony first-degree arson and felony larceny of a dog.

Christie Louise Jones of Richfield was then sentenced Thursday by Judge Joseph Crosswhite to 20-25 years in prison on the convictions.

Rowan County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of attempted arson just before 7:30 a.m. that Friday when a woman called to say a woman neither she nor her husband knew was outside trying to set their house on fire.

According to reports from the incident, the victims’ neighbor called and woke the wife of the couple who live in the home just after 7 a.m., saying they could see a woman on their porch who looked like she was trying to set the porch on fire. When the male resident went downstairs to investigate the neighbors’ claims, he saw a pile of wood on the front porch that was, indeed, on fire. Initially he attempted to get enough water from the kitchen sink to put the fire out, but when that did not work, he called his wife to bring the fire extinguisher while he went to the back yard to get the hose. Firefighters later confirmed that they had found a container of bar and chain oil on the front porch that appeared to have been used as an accelerant.

The homeowner said, and fire officials confirmed, that wood had been piled around the propane tank at the back of the house as well, and set on fire, and the hose had been sealed and was unusable. The man told deputies he kept a spray bottle of water sealant nearby for use on the above-ground pool they own, and he realized someone had used that sealant on the hose.

The man went on to say he saw both of his dogs out, one roaming freely and one being held on a leash by an unknown woman. When he tried to approach her and keep her from leaving until officials arrived, she got in the car and used the vehicle to push him out of her way.

When deputies arrived, the male homeowner was able to give them a description of both the woman and her car, along with her license plate number. In addition, a neighbor was able to give deputies the woman’s name.

Deputies determined Jones lived in Stanly County and contacted deputies there, and they were able to arrest Jones without incident. Jones was initially charged with first-degree arson, assault with a deadly weapon and larceny of a canine, and held on a $101,500 bond.

Deputies said it appeared Jones was trying to target an ex-boyfriend who does indeed own property in the area, but not at the address where she tried to set the fire. According to reports, during the investigation Jones noted that she “only burned the edge of the porch,” but also did admit she went there intending to kill someone.

District Attorney Brandy Cook recognized the dedication of Assistant DA Ashley Smith who tried the case, the investigative efforts by RCSO, and the cooperation of the victims.