MOUNTAIN VIEW, Mo. – A 19-year-old is accused of starting a fire that killed his grandmother in Howell County.
Jacob Hearne is charged with First-Degree Murder, First-Degree Arson and Abandonment of a Corpse in connection with the death of 62-year-old Phyllis Schweinel.
According to the PC statement, Hearne told an investigator Schweinel, who was his grandmother, took Xanax and asked her grandson to light a jacket on fire and make her death look like an accident.
A probable cause statement from the Missouri State Highway Patrol said Fire Marshals who were called to a structure fire Tuesday afternoon (4/19/22) found Schweinel’s body inside the home. MSHP investigators determined the circumstances seemed suspicious.
The Highway Patrol Sergeant conducting the investigation said Schweinel’s grandson returned to the scene later Tuesday afternoon. The investigator invited the grandson, who introduced himself as Jacob Hearne to talk with him in his patrol car. The Seargent then activated his recording device and read Hearne his Miranda Rights.
Hearne said he had lived with his grandmother for the last ten years, and described her to the Patrol Sergeant as more of a mother figure to him.
According to the PC statement, Hearne told the Sergeant he overslept that morning and Schweinel was, “giving him crap.” According to Hearne, his grandmother was upset that Hearne missed an opportunity to make money. Hearne said both he and Schweinel were “so hateful with each other” that he went for a walk. Hearne claimed he was gone for a few hours.
Hearne told the Highway Patrol Sergeant a police officer called him while he was walking back home and told him what happened to his grandmother. “We fought all the time and stuff, but we loved each other,” Hearne said, according to the PC statement.
According to Hearne, the PC statement said, Schweinel wanted to kick him out of the house but legally could not because he was a resident. Hearne continued to tell the Sergeant about a fight he and Schweinel had the night before and said his grandmother had made mention of wanting to die and be with family in Heaven.
When the Sergeant asked Hearne if he killed his grandmother, he said no and that Schweinel was his hero, according to the PC statement. Hearne told the Sergeant he believed his grandmother killed herself.
The PC document stated Hearne ended up telling the Sergeant that Schweinel asked him for help ending her life, and took five or six Xanax pills so she would not feel any pain, and Hearne waited for Schweinel to pass out.
Hearne said when Schweinel started snoring, he took one of her jackets and used the gas range to light it on fire, according to the PC statement. Hearne said he placed the jacket behind the chair where his grandmother was sitting and left the home, saying he was afraid he would not make it out because the chair was engulfed in flames immediately.
Hearne said he said a prayer for his grandmother and told the Sergeant he regretted what he did. According to the PC, Hearne said if he could do things over, he would have walked away and let his grandmother calm down.
“I wanted to stop it but it was just too late,” Hearne said, according to the PC statement.
Hearne is scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment Friday, April 22, 2022.