JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police accused a 52-year-old man of setting fire one month ago to a home with three people inside. Two got out safely, but one died after he was pulled out of the burning building.
The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office says Jimmie Jackson Jr. started the fire at the house on Spearing Street about 4 a.m. on Sept. 8, knowing a man he'd had a running dispute with for five years was in the house.
Cecil Hepler (pictured below), 61, died after firefighters pulled him from the home. The two others suffered minor injuries.
Hepler's sister, Susie George, said her brother was disabled, and when his home caught fire, he couldn't make it out the window so had to walk through the house. George said her brother collapsed in the kitchen, and after firefighters pulled him out, he died in the hospital.
"I can't believe he's gone this way," George said. "He was just a loveable person, a very lovable person, and he was willing to help anybody."
Investigators said the killing was the result of what started five years ago.
"There was a dispute that happened back in 2008 that involved some type of physical altercation between our suspect and some of the family members of our victim," said JSO Assistant Chief Chris Butler. "The suspect was actually seeking vengeance when he set the home on fire."
Hepler's sister said she knew Jackson. She said he used to rent a room from her and she would feed him. George said it makes learning what he's accused of doing even more painful.
"He didn't strike me as this kind of person," she said. "The reasons I do not know because my brother has no enemies, my brother has never done wrong to anybody."
Police said a tip led them to Jackson and he admitted to starting the fire knowing the house was occupied.
Jackson was arrested Wednesday and booked into the Duval County Jail on charges of burglary, arson and murder.
The family said to make matters worse, they have to remove all the debris from the burned down house within the next couple weeks. They said it could be very expensive, and they don't have the money to do it, so they're looking for help right now.
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