One Dead, Others Injured After Jail Fire

Cody Davis
Cody Davis

One Dead, Others Injured After Jail Fire
By: Associated Press & Crystal Britt

OREGON COUNTY, Mo. - One inmate is dead after a fire in a southern Missouri jail that sent five other prisoners to area hospitals.
The Oregon County Sheriff's Office said the fire broke out in a corner cell Thursday night.  Oregon County is on the Arkansas state line about 125 miles southeast of Springfield.
A jailer was alerted by yelling from prisoners.  The smoke was too thick for the jailer to enter the cell area.
Firefighters arrived within five minutes, the sheriff's office said in a statement.
Jesse Johnson, 17, was declared dead at the scene.  The sheriff's office was unable to say what Johnson was jailed for.
Investigators found burned paper, mail, styrofoam cups, pieces of a Bible, a shower curtain, and a mattress on the third floor where the jail is located.  Four inmates were in that cell, including the one who died, Angela Tillmans' son, and two others.
Angela Tillman's 19-year-old son Cody Davis was serving time at the Oregon County jail she says for probation violation.
"I'm wondering if my son is alive.  I'm wondering how the jail caught on fire.  I'm wondering a lot of things," said Angela Tillman.
When she heard the place was on fire, she got here as soon as she could.
"He was laying out there on the ground.  There was a guy beside him.  I think he was the one that died.  He looked dead to me.  He was not breathing, not moving, nobody was working on him," Tillman said.
Tillman fears the worst for her son. Those fears turned to anger as she says the hospital made her leave.
"They would not tell me if he was dead or alive.  They would not tell me if he was OK.  They would not let me see him," Tillman said.
Neither St. John's Hospital in Springfield nor the Oregon County Sheriff's Office will release conditions on the injured at this time.  Several others needed medical treatment as a result of the fire including the sheriff himself. 
An autopsy has been requested to determine Johnson's cause of death.  The state fire marshall is investigating the blaze.
No word yet whether or not anyone will be charged.