Waldo County man once acquitted of murder arrested over weekend on arson charge

Posted July 08, 2013, at 7:05 p.m.
Jerome Reynolds Jr.
Jerome Reynolds Jr.

BROOKS, Maine — A man who was acquitted in one of Waldo County’s most notorious murder trials eight years ago was arrested this weekend after allegedly setting fire to his wife’s car.

Jerome Reynolds Jr., 62, got into an argument with his wife very early Saturday morning, according to Chief Deputy Jeff Trafton of the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office. The woman was able to go to a nearby home on Purple Heart Highway in Brooks to call for help, and when she left, Reynolds poured motor oil on her vehicle and lit it on fire, Trafton said Monday.

Officers arrived at the home fairly quickly and Sgt. James Greeley was able to stamp out the fire.

When police told Reynolds he was under arrest, he allegedly resisted.

“He had to be physically subdued,” Trafton said, adding that no officers were injured during the arrest.

Reynolds was charged with arson, assault, refusing to submit to arrest or detention, criminal mischief and terrorizing.

He was taken to Waldo County Jail in Belfast and remained in police custody on Monday. A jail official said that the bail commissioner declined to set bail.

It isn’t Reynold’s first go-round in the criminal justice system. In 2005, a Waldo County jury found him not guilty of murder in the shotgun slaying of his elderly father’s girlfriend the previous year. Reynolds shot unarmed 60-year-old Janet Bacon in the face after she forced her way into his home. Bacon, who was dressed in a nightgown and slippers, had argued with Reynolds’ father earlier that day after he had played cards with a group of women at a local senior center.

Reynolds admitted to shooting Bacon but claimed that he was frightened of her and feared for the safety of his father. But four years after the acquittal, a different judge ruled against Reynolds in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Bacon’s son Linwood Walker. Superior Court Justice Jeffrey Hjelm in that case stated that the Brooks man had acted with “implied malice” when he killed Bacon. Reynolds was assessed punitive damages of $50,000 and compensatory damages of $308,108.

In March 2012, Reynolds was arrested and charged with domestic violence terrorizing after a fight with a woman in his home. While deputies were en route to the house, the dispatcher called to check on the woman involved, and overheard Reynolds telling her that if the police showed up, he would kill them, according to a police report from the time.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence and would like to talk with an advocate, call 866-834-4357, TRS 800-787-3224. This free, confidential service is available 24/7 and is accessible from anywhere in Maine.

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