Daily American Republic
A day after a Doniphan man buried his wife and toddler son who died in a house fire, he is in jail on suspicion of starting the fire. Ripley County Sheriff Ron Barnett said Michael Payne was arrested about 4 p.m. Thursday at the sheriff’s department on suspicion of first-degree arson. The bodies of Payne’s 23-year-old wife, Valerie, and their 15-month-old son, Eli, were found April 8 by firefighters in their home southwest of Doniphan. Autopsies show the cause of death for both was smoke inhalation. Ripley County Sheriff Ron Barnett says Payne was arrested by an investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office. At this point it is unknown whether Payne will be charged. During the fire, Michael Payne suffered what Wicklund described as second- and third-degree burns to his arms, hands, shoulders and back. He was treated at Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center.