Jonesboro Man Charged with Attempted Murder, Arson

MAY 18, 2006 - Posted at 12:17 p.m. CST, updated at 7:27 a.m. on May 19

JONESBORO, AR - A 21-year-old Jonesboro man was arrested Thursday morning after a late-night apartment fire on Wednesday which caused severe injuries to one woman.

Jonesboro police officers were dispatched to the 1800 block of Self Circle in north Jonesboro, near the ASU campus, at approximately 11 p.m. to assist with a fire at an apartment complex.  Upon arrival, Bernard Byais, Sr. told police that he and his wife exited their apartment through a rear window after discovering a fire inside the living room.

Byais's wife, Dessie Byais, was taken to St. Bernard's Medical Center for treatment of severe burns and cuts, before later being transferred to the burn unit of a St. Louis, Missouri hospital.

While at the scene, JPD detective Vic Brooks received information from witnesses and other sources which led him to believe that Bernard Byais, Jr. may have intentionally started the fire and then fled the apartment after a dispute with his parents.

Following an all-night search, the younger Byais was located at approximately 8 a.m. Thursday at a nearby residence, where he was arrested without incident.

Bernard Byais, Jr. has been charged with arson and criminal attempt to commit murder.  Circuit Judge Pam Honeycutt set Byais's bond at $300,000.  Byais is to appear in court again on June 30.