June 3, 2014 at 11:24 pm

Traces of gasoline found at fatal apartment fire on Detroit's east side

Detroit police check out the front door at a fire and death of a man at the Le Chateau Manor on Mound Road near 7 Mile in Detroit on Tuesday. (David Coates / The Detroit News)

Detroit — The fire department determined an apartment fire on the city’s east side, where a senior citizen’s body was discovered, was arson after investigators found significant traces of gasoline, according to officials.

“It’s definitely an arson,” Arson Chief Charles Simms said. “Our captain went out and brought back evidence. There was no gas can, but the front entryway was doused in gasoline.”

The blaze broke out at about 3:45 a.m. Tuesday in a unit of Le Chateau Manor Apartments in the 19000 block of Mound near Seven Mile.

Firefighters called police to the scene after finding a man’s body inside the unit.

“We do know that the body appears to have had some type of trauma to it, but it’s unknown at this time what caused that trauma,” Officer Adam Madera said. “The body has been turned over to the Office of the Medical Examiner to determine the cause of death.”

Friends and family members identified the victim as Edward Jones, 61, an Army veteran, retired Chrysler worker and grandfather of three. Family members believe Jones was the victim of foul play.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” said Jones’ daughter, Tameka Merriweather, who sobbed along with others huddled in the parking lot. “He would come over every other weekend. I just saw him ... three weeks ago.”

Jones’ brother-in-law, Willie Jones, 64, said relatives saw Edward on Sunday as Edward was preparing to go to visit his girlfriend who was in the hospital.

The next day, Willie Jones and Merriweather stopped by Edward Jones’ home to pay him a visit at 3 p.m. After no one answered, they returned at about 7 or 8 p.m..

“We yelled and bammed on the door, and no one answered,” Willie Jones said. “At 4 a.m., we got a call from his girlfriend saying he was dead and his house was on fire.”

Crime scene investigators made their way inside the apartment Tuesday morning, removing two rifles and a small flat-screen TV box from the residence.

Residents from units nearby peered out screen doors watching the unit, where the front door was singed and bricks above the front door were charred.

tbriscoe@detroitnews.com

Jones (Family photo)