Man admits to Autaugaville arson as 'joke'

Authorities say the suspect set the house on fire as a joke
Authorities say the suspect set the house on fire as a joke
The remains of Charlton's 90 year old home
The remains of Charlton's 90 year old home

AUTAUGAVILLE, AL (WSFA) - There is simply no way for Deanne Charlton to describe it. Her home in Autaugaville, dating back four generations, was reduced to charred rubble in a matter of minutes Sunday morning.

"That house was ground zero for me. It's where I was from," said Charlton.

Built in 1920 by Charlton's grandfather, Deanne Charlton says her home was well-loved with a big southern front porch, nestled behind 50-year old Camellia bushes. Charlton lives in Montgomery but had rented out the family home to a tenant.

"It was a sweet old wooden house," she added.

State fire arson investigators said the suspect, Jason Brown, is in custody in the Autauga County Metro Jail. Charlton showed WSFA 12 News the investigator's report indicating Brown confessed to the crime. It was the last sentence that really got to her, the part where Brown says he 'did it as joke.'

"There is nothing amusing about losing a home," Charlton said forcing back tears.

According to Charlton, a neighbor says Jason Brown knocked on their door at 2am Sunday and requested to use the phone. When the homeowner refused Brown then allegedly went to Charlton's home where he requested the same thing. When he was refused a second time he left, only to return a few minutes later.

The investigator's report says Brown lit hay on the front porch to start the blaze. "When she opened the door, the entire front of the house was engulfed in flames and the front window exploded," said Charlton.

Jason Brown now faces First Degree arson charges and could be looking at a minimum of 10 years in prison. Brown's idea of a joke became Deanne Charlton's sad loss. Thankfully, there were no injuries in the fire.