Inmate Convicted In Fire That Killed His Family OD’s In Smyrna Prison, Dies At Hospital

The Delaware Department of Correction (DOC) and Delaware State Police Criminal Investigative Unit are investigating the apparent overdose death of an inmate at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC), according to Paul Shavack, DOC Public Information Officer.

Shavack said the preliminary investigation has determined that on Monday, February 1, 2021, at approximately 8:00 p.m. Travis M. Jones, 35-year-old male from Newark, and another 35-year-old male inmate were found unresponsive in their housing unit located at the JTVCC. Life-saving measures, including CPR and Naloxone administration, were immediately initiated by Correctional Officers and medical staff. Kent County Emergency Medical Services arrived and transported both to Bayhealth Hospital’s Kent Campus.

Jones was admitted in critical condition initially, however, additional medical interventions were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead on Wednesday.

Jones had been in DOC custody since 2013 and was serving a 60-year sentence for three counts of Manslaughter for causing the deaths of his girlfriend and two children in a 2010 fire at their home in Delaware City.

Jones’ body was turned over to the Division of Forensic Science to conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The death investigation is being conducted by Delaware State Police and is pending at this time.

Preliminary investigation by the Delaware Department of Correction has indicated that there were no suspicious circumstances and no foul play suspected at this time, said Shavack.

The second 35-year-old inmate was admitted in stable condition, has fully recovered, and has since been discharged and returned to the facility.


On June 10, 2013, Delaware State Fire Marshalls arrested Travis Jones.  On August 5, 2013, a New Castle County grand jury indicted Jones on three counts of murder in the first degree and one count of arson in the first degree.  Following jury selection, beginning on May 26, 2015, Superior Court held a 16-day trial; the jury convicted Jones of three counts of the lesser-included offense of manslaughter and acquitted him of arson.  On September 18, 2015, Superior Court sentenced Jones to a total non-suspended period of 60 years of imprisonment.

On the morning of October 4, 2010, around 5:00 a.m., Travis Jones left 101 Clinton Street, a house he shared with his girlfriend Teyonna Watts and their two young children, Breyonna Jones and Jordan Jones, and went to his mother’s house about five blocks away. Jone’s neighbor and her family lived at a residence connected to 101 Clinton Street. Shortly after 5:00 a.m., The neighbor smelled smoke and rushed to alert her family. She found her son and husband downstairs; her husband was “on the phone with 911.” While her husband was on the phone, The woman went outside and saw flames coming out of the back of her next-door neighbor’s residence. Flames leaped from the rear window and smoke filled the house. She tried to alert her neighbors by banging on their door and window.

Less than a mile away from the fire, a volunteer firefighter picked up his co-worker, also a volunteer firefighter, from his house in Delaware City. As they backed out of the co-woker’s driveway, they were alerted to the fire on Clinton Street. Given their proximity, they decided to “go look at it.” When they arrived, they saw flames coming out of the rear windows of 101 Clinton Street. They spoke briefly with Jones’ neighbors and advised them to get out of that house. They then directed their efforts to the fire at 101 Clinton Street.

A woman ran toward the firefighters and told them that 101 Clinton Street was occupied and that children might be inside. One man knocked the door down and both men then attempted to enter the residence. Due to heavy smoke, heat, and the fact that they were not wearing firefighting equipment, they were unable to enter the residence. Denied access through the front door, they placed a ladder against the house and one of the men attempted to enter an upstairs window, but again could not get in due to heat and smoke. As the man came down the ladder, a Delaware City Fire Company truck arrived.

The man grabbed a hose from the truck and began spraying the fire as he worked toward the back of the residence. Another firefighter, equipped with an air pack, worked his way through the fire from the front of the house to the back. The first firefighter handed the firefighter with air the hose through a rear window. The first firefighter then returned to the firetruck, retrieved ladders, and placed them against the residence to provide firefighters within the building a means of egress. He then climbed one of the ladders to the second floor and “looked inside the window and saw an outstretched hand and a baby.” He immediately entered the residence, picked up the baby, and ran down the stairs and out the front door where he handed the child to a fireman outside.

The air equipped firefighter extinguished the fire in the rear room, put the hose down, then went upstairs to assist his crew with two individuals they found on the second floor.
They carried an adult female down the stairs, while others removed a toddler through the front window. Emergency personnel transported the woman, the toddler, and the infant from the scene.
All three died the same day as a result of smoke inhalation; the medical examiner determined their manner of death to be homicide.

Additional details leading to Jones’ arrest are found in the full record of his appeal HERE