UPDATE: TEMECULA: Care home fire that killed 5 confirmed murder-suicide

UPDATE: 10/24/2016 4:30 p.m.

TEMECULA – Investigators from the Riverside County Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit and Southwest Station, in conjunction with Cal-Fire’s Arson Unit, announced today that a fire at a Temecula area care facility that killed five people was arson related. Additionally, four of the five people found at the residence after the fire sustained injuries consistent with gun shot wounds, according to Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Wallace Clear.

The location of the fire, the Renee Jennex Small Family Home, was a state licensed full-time residential care facility for adults with developmental disabilities. The facility had four patients living at the location when a “suspicious” fire gutted the residence Aug. 29.

“Evidence located at the scene indicated the fire was caused by arson,” Clear wrote in an updated press release about the incident and ongoing investigation. “Autopsies of the deceased along with evidence at the scene revealed four of the fire victims suffered injuries consistent with gunshots.”

The decedents have now all been identified as 37-year-old, Milford Battison; 35-year-old, Richard Driskill; 31-year-old, Miguel Ferreyra; 26-year-old, Jared Prudhomme; and their caretaker, 50-year-old, James Jennex.

At this time, the Riverside County Central Homicide Unit is investigating this incident as a possible murder-suicide.

“The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department will ensure a thorough investigation is conducted, and is seeking any information,” Clear wrote.

Individuals with information related to this ongoing investigation are encouraged to contact Central Homicide Unit Investigator Brandon Mullins at (951) 955-2777. Callers can refer to incident file number SW162420005 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.

 

UPDATE: 09/02/2016 1:20 p.m.

Coroner’s officials have identified four of the five people killed in Monday’s blaze at the Renee Jennex Small Family Home, a care facility that was destroyed by a fire in Temecula

James Jennex, a 50-year-old male who was the administrator of the care facility, Jared Prudhomme, a 26-year-old male, Milford Battison, a 37-year-old male, and Richard Driskill, a 37-year-old male.

A fifth person killed in the fire has been listed as a male, although he has not yet been publicly identified.

 

UPDATE: 08/31/2016 12:30 p.m.

Investigators from multiple agencies have spent the last several days scouring through the burned ruble of a Temecula area residence destroyed by a blaze Monday, Aug. 29. The investigators have been searching for clues as to what triggered the fatal blaze and why the four adults being cared for at the care facility had not been able to flee from the fire.

The rural residence was licensed as the Renee Jennex Small Family Home. The residential care facility was licensed to care for up four developmentally disabled adults who were all considered ambulatory and should not have needed assistance in exiting the residence during an emergency.

The facility was first licensed by the state in 2003. In 2007 the facility applied to expand its capacity to four ambulatory residents and no non-ambulatory or bedridden residents. According to the California Department of Social Services and the Riverside County Fire Marshal, the care facility underwent inspections in 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2015.

Some have questioned why the care facility did not have fire suppression sprinklers installed throughout the facility. However, according to state law, existing single-family dwellings that are converted to care facilities similar to the Renee Jennex Small Family Home that house six or fewer clients are not required by state law to have sprinklers unless there is more than one bedridden client.

Although none of those who died in the fire have been identified by coroner’s officials, family members have stated one of the deceased included 50-year-old James Jennex, the administrator at the care facility.

 

ORIGINAL STORY

TEMECULA – Investigators from the Southwest Station, the Sheriff’s Central Homicide Unit and Cal-Fire Arson Unit are conducting a homicide investigation at a home in the 41400 block of Cruz Way, just east of the city of Temecula, according to Riverside Sheriff’s Sergeant Wallace Clear.

The residence was the site of a blaze Monday, Aug. 29 that destroyed much of the home. The location was licensed as a residential care facility and authorized to care for up to four adults with developmental disabilities.

After the fire was extinguished fire investigators found the bodies of five adults inside the residence. The day after the fire, Riverside County sheriff’s officials declared the house a crime scene and called the fire “suspicious.”

The blaze at the care facility was reported to Riverside County emergency dispatchers at about 5 a.m.

The first arriving firefighters advised finding flames and smoke showing from the residence. 22 Firefighters from five engine companies and one truck company responded to the blaze, according to Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire Public Information Officer Jennifer Fuhrman.

Fire personnel knocked the flames down in about an hour and were in the process of sifting through the ruble of the fire when “they discovered the remains of five adults inside,” according to Clear. After finding the bodies of the five victims, fire investigators contacted sheriff’s officials to assist in conducting an investigation.

“The origins of the fire have not been determined and are still under investigation,” Clear explained.

The decedents’ remains are being held at the Coroner’s Office while officials make positive identification of the victims. However, one of the victims was believed to be James Jennex, administrator at Renee Jennex Small Family Home.

Investigators are asking anyone with information regarding this case to contact Investigator Mullins at the Central Homicide Unit by calling (951) 955-2777 or Investigator Gorlicki at the Station at the Southwest Station at (951) 696-4357. Callers can refer to incident file number SW162420005 and can remain anonymous. Citizens may also submit a tip using the Sheriff’s Homicide Tipline online form.

9 comments

  • How about releasing information about text Jennex sent his wife before the fire started and 3 people were shot? “forgive me…”

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  • Absolutely….

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  • Still no info regarding this horrific crime? As a mother of an autistic adult, my heart is broken for those 4 men who were shot. I wonder if they were murdered in their beds as they slept? If the caretaker was stressed out & having issues, what’s the wives take on it? I would imagine she must have known something wasn’t quite right with her husband or marriage. She had a responsibility to her clients, to keep them safe from harm 24/7. I know first hand, it isn’t an easy job, it requires an insane amount of patience, consistency and sleepless nights-I’m going on 24 hrs with no sleep because my son is up bouncing around the house and wakes me up continuously. I’m a former Temecula resident, now living out of state. There is ZERO compensation and limited support for my son and myself in the state I’m now currently residing. There isn’t an IHSS program or IRC. I’ve been waiting 1.5 years for a ADH program for my son and 7 mo this for an ABA program. I’m unable to work because I’m the primary caregiver. There are group homes available like the Jennex’s, but I’m not at that point yet. I These businesses are being compensated to provide a safe and secure environment. I haven’t read anything about the wives involvement or what she knew about what her husband did. Has she ever made a public statement? Was James Jennex the only caregiver? If so, why? He obviously couldn’t mentally handle the job.These disabled clients were placed in this facility for a reason, most, if not perhaps all, were severely autistic/disabled with behavioral issues and they needed extra support and care, only to be murdered by their caregiver?? Parents/families, entrust their loved ones to the care of competent and professional employees. It’s hard enough to make the decision to relinquish your child, the guilt must be overwhelming, only to find out they’ve been hurt or killed? Why so hush hush and limited info? The murdered men’s families deserve an answer. My prayers go out to them. *I only know what I’ve read online, so perhaps my questions have already been answered. The opinions and questions expressed are my personal feelings as the mother of an autistic adult child. God bless.

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