UPDATE: Murder Charges Filed in Deadly Becker County Fire - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

UPDATE: Murder Charges Filed in Deadly Becker County Fire

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A developing story out in Becker county Minnesota where a Ponsford man is facing second degree murder charges in the death of his significant other. The Becker county Sheriff's office arrested Charles Jones Sr. after a house fire that authorities say he admitted starting killed Sholanda Clark. Today Valley News team's Eric Crest went to Ponsford on the White Earth Indian reservation to get more details.

When Becker county Sheriff deputies got out here that two story building behind me was engulfed with flames and two neighbors were out here shouting the name Sholanda. She lived here and she was inside. But the other person who lived here, Charles James Jones senior was gone. The folks out here shouting Sholanda's name said he was at a near by home and by the time authorities caught up with him, that's where their suspicion started.

Becker county investigators say when they found Jones at a neighbors house he reeked of smoke, had a burn on his face and jacket, and was covered in what looked like black soot. Jones told authorities he started the fire and believed Sholanda was on the couch.

In this small community that's a buzz over the recent news, the White Earth spiritual leader says as of now locals shouldn't be drawing conclusions but rather be thinking about the families involved.

"Being a spiritual advisor you pray for the those families to help them through this now. You got two families here, one they lost someone and their going through pain," says Michael Swan.

He's also hoping that as people hear about what happened on his reservation, outsiders don't stereotype his friends and family as a whole.

"It happens in every community and no matter what, it's just how it's highlighted. A lot of positive things happen here but sometimes people don't see that," says Swan.

So as the White Earth Reservation, and families on both sides of the tragedy get through this awful situation. Michael Swan just hopes others see this small town for what he's always seen it as.

"I was born here and I grew up here and the only time I wasn't, was to go to college. And then I came back. I love it here," says Swan proudly.

Jones is currently being held at the Becker county Law Enforcement Center in Detroit Lakes. He's facing two counts of second degree murder and one count of first degree arson. His arraignment in court is set for tomorrow.


A criminal complaint has been filed in Becker County District Court against Charles James Jones, in the death of 35-year-old Shalonda Sioux Clark of Ponsford, Minnesota. Preliminary cause of death as determined by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner is Asphyxiation by Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Charles Jones is being charged with several counts including murder and is currently being held at the Becker County Law Enforcement Center. He is charged with the following crimes:

  • Count 1 – Murder-2nd Degree-With Intent-Not Premeditated
  • Count 2 – Murder-2nd Degree-Without Intent-While Committing a Felony
  • Count 3 – Arson-1st Degree-Dwelling. 


Becker County authorities are investigating after one person died and another escaped a house fire. The call came in around 4:40 Monday night of a house on fire near County Road 129 in Ponsford, Minnesota.

When deputies arrived, they say Charles James Jones was outside of the home at 29486 County Road 129, but said someone else was missing and may still be inside the burning house.

Upon further investigation, a victim was found in the burned home.  That person was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner for identification and cause of death.

Deputies observed burns on Jones and his clothing and, while on scene, determined to take Jones into custody. An investigation is being conducted by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, State Fire Marshal, White Earth Police Department and Becker County Sheriff's Office.

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