Neighbors upset after person of interest in deadly arson released from jail

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 16, 2014 at 10:37 PM

Updated Monday, Jun 16 at 10:40 PM

Tania Dall / Eyewitness News
Email: tdall@wwltv.com | Twitter: @taniadall

METAIRIE, La. -- The person of interest in a deadly Metairie apartment fire is back on the street much to the dismay of neighbors.

Last week's fire killed two people, and while the survivors are still picking up the pieces, they have a lot of questions about that person of interest.

"It is devastating. Excuse me," Mary Ponson said as she became overwhelmed with emotion.

For a second time in her life she is starting over from scratch. On Monday, Ponson moved into a Terrytown apartment with her prized "babies," Eli and Macy, both cockatoos.

The 52-year-old only has a handful of clothing, bedding and empty crates for chairs after losing everything in a deadly fire.

"I heard screaming when I opened up the back door, and it was the people in the back top apartment that died," Ponson said.

The Jefferson Parish Coroner's Office now says 58-year-old Jeffrey Evans was one of the three victims who died from smoke inhalation in the 2300 block of Harvard Avenue. The coroner's office confirms it is still trying to positively identify a woman and man.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office says evidence at last Tuesday's fire points to arson. Investigators are still calling Terrill Normand a person of interest.

"This particular individual had an infatuation with one of the victims," Sheriff Newell Normand said in a news conference a week ago.

After being picked up by detectives on outstanding attachments, the sheriff's office has confirmed Normand was released a day after the arson because of jail overcrowding. The 58-year-old hasn't been formally booked on charges in the case because the sheriff's office says it is still under investigation.

"They're letting him walk the streets. I'm a 52-year-old woman, disabled. I don't need to have to worry about that," Ponson said.

A brutal beating during a home invasion is why Ponson said she is now on disability. So is Rickey Jackson, who was once homeless.

"They pulled me out of my house at 3 a.m. in the morning," said Jackson about last week's fire.

Knocks on the door is how the Metairie resident woke up as the building next door burned. He lost friends trapped by flames and now is hoping for justice.

"I want justice for them. I wish I could talk to [Normand] myself, because I'd ask him to his face, 'Did you do that man?'"

As for Normand, JPSO said he is not a flight risk and that the case is still under investigation.

 

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