GASTONIA, N.C. - There were at least two fires set in the home where 68-year-old Brenda Jenkins was found dead, according to police.
They believe her son, Jerry Gibble, who took her in when her health began to fail set the fires to kill her.
Prosecutors said in court Tuesday they may seek the death penalty for Gibble, who got out of prison last year after serving eight years as a habitual felon.
Jenkins suffered from symptoms similar to dementia while living with family in South Carolina, and Gibble moved her into his home three weeks ago.
Police said Gibble realized he could not care for his mother so he set the fires before he left to pick up his girlfriend Kerry Gibson at work.
When they returned to the burning home, they called 911.
"Oh my God," Gibble said in the 911 call.
"Tell me what's happening," the dispatcher said. "Tell me what I need to send."
"Just get an ambulance out here now," Gibson said.
Jenkins wasn't breathing when Gibble tried to revive her with chest compressions.
When help arrived, Gibble told others how he thought the fire started.
"I don't know," he said. "The furnace or something kicked on in there."
Police said that was a lie.
"The electrical charge from a furnace is not enough to start a fire," said Jimmy Arndt with the Gastonia Police Department.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms officials and fire experts said at least two fires were intentionally set while Jenkins was asleep.
Investigators said Gibble's last stop before heading home was a grocery store two minutes away, but it took him almost half an hour to get home from there.
"A good bit of time there that cannot be accounted for," Arndt said.
Police said Jenkins died of smoke inhalation.
Gibble will be assigned a public defender to represent him.
If this becomes a capital case, he may get a court-appointed lawyer
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