Husband charged with murder after bedridden wife dies in house fire

A Lucerne Valley man was charged with murder Wednesday, months after his bed-ridden wife died in a fire that engulfed their home.

Donald Wayne Jenman, 68, faces one count of murder in the death of his wife, Lynda Cestone, according to a San Bernardino County Superior Court complaint. Cestone, 56, had suffered a stroke in 2010 and had been confined to her bed ever since, according to authorities.

Authorities said he set the blaze that killed his wife and at least a dozen cats.

Jenman was arrested Friday following a nearly eight-month long probe into the mysterious fire that swept through the couple’s home in the 9800 block of Mesa Road on April 19.

Witnesses had called authorities about 4:30 a.m. to report “elderly residents possibly unable to evacuate from the home,” according to a San Bernadino County Fire Department statement. Half of the 1,400-foot-home was engulfed by flames, fire officials said.

When firefighters arrived, they found Jenman outside the single-story structure, suffering from smoke inhalation and burns. He was taken to a regional burn center.

Firefighters entered the home and found hoarder conditions, according to the department. The clutter allowed the blaze to spread rapidly and complicated efforts to fight the flames.

As firefighters battled the blaze, a portion of the home’s roof collapsed over a bedroom. After the fire was extinguished, firefighters found Cestone’s body.

Firefighters also discovered at least a dozen dead cats inside the home.

Arson investigators discovered a gas supply line had been disconnected, according to the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department.

Suspicious of the fire’s origin, arson investigators called homicide detectives to the scene.

veronica.rocha@latimes.com

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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