Names released for three killed in apartment fire - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Names released for three killed in apartment fire

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Christopher Compton, 31. (Source: Evansville Police Department) Christopher Compton, 31. (Source: Evansville Police Department) Christopher Compton, 31. (Source: Evansville Police Department) Christopher Compton, 31. (Source: Evansville Police Department)
EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) -

The Vanderburgh County Coroner's Office has released the names of the victims of Monday's deadly fire. 

Officials say 28-year-old Keri Jones, 76-year-old Donald Lankford, and Keri's 3-year-old daughter, Jazmine, were killed in the two-story apartment fire at 29 West Franklin Street. The coroner's office says all died of smoke inhalation.

Police say Emergency crews were sent to the apartment building around 4:30 p.m. after someone passing saw smoke coming from building.

Four people were able to get out of the building by jumping from a second story window. Three of them remain hospitalized and the fourth was treated and released.

Shortly after arriving on scene, EPD officers were given information that implicated 31-year-old Christopher Compton in the fire. He was located by officers near Heidelbach and Illinois.

He was taken to headquarters were he was interviewed by detectives. Following his interview with detectives, he was arrested on three counts of murder and four counts of arson with injury.

Compton mad his first court appearance Tuesday morning where he interrupted the judge when reading the accusations against him.

The Vanderburgh County Prosecutor's Office says they are going through all the information collected from the crime scene. That includes items found inside this house after the fire and statements made by witnesses.

The prosecutor has 72 hours to file those charges. We're told everything is on the table, including the death penalty.
     
Late Tuesday night, Prosecutor Nick Hermann told 14 News that Compton will likely be charged first with murder and arson. Then any enhancements, like lifetime without parole or the death penalty would be added later.

Hermann says this case is eligible for the death penalty because there are multiple victims including one under the age of 12.
     
We also learned this afternoon that Keri is a former girlfriend of Compton's.
     
One man who lived inside the same building tells 14 News that the loss is like losing members of his own family.

"Well, I've been here 10 years. They been here when I got here. They were good people. It was like a family building. I hate to really see it happen like this. I wish there was someway we could put it back together. You know, if it was my choice, I'd snap my fingers and wave my hands and it would all come back together again," says Bernard Shorty.

Authorities say he admitted to setting fire to his jacket in the hallway at the bottom of the stairs. Also, according to police documents, he told a man on the corner of Main and Franklin that he 'knew babies were inside.'

Bruce Woodward with the Evansville Fire Department was off duty and in the area at the time of the fire. He tells 14 News that he saw Compton walking across the street near the fire.

Compton is due back in court on Friday.

Related Stories:

Arrest made in deadly Evansville fire
Three confirmed dead in apartment fire on Franklin St.

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