Police: Suspect fled moments after starting fire that killed girlfriend, dogs

Local News

Coroner suggests woman may have died prior to fire

Mobile home fire on E. Sahara Ave. near Hollywood Blvd. on Nov. 10, 2021.

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — 8 News Now has obtained new information into what police believe happened hours before a deadly mobile home fire claimed the lives of a woman and three dogs.

A warrant details the death investigation of 35-year-old Melynda Bown and her dogs that died in a fire on Nov. 10 at a home near Sahara Avenue and Hollywood Boulevard.

Police arrested Bown’s boyfriend, Shyhelee Coleman, 35, in Carson City, in connection with the incident about a week later.

According to the warrant, officers responded to reports of a domestic dispute at the home hours before the fire. The fight involved Bown, her brother, Samuel, and Coleman, police said.

Officers tried to speak with the couple, but only Samuel came out and accused Coleman of stealing his Wi-Fi router and laptop. He also told officers he would file a report for the stolen items and begin the eviction process on his sister and her boyfriend, the warrant said.

Later that evening, firefighters responded to a fire at the home and told police that the couple was not there and that Bown’s car was missing.

Detectives interviewed Samuel and learned that he was the owner of the mobile home where he, Bown, Coleman and three other roommates lived. He also told officers that Coleman and his sister were heavy meth users and were always in a state of paranoia, to the point that Coleman feared people were watching him through Wi-Fi, the warrant said.

Samuel told detectives that after arguing with Coleman that day, he realized he had not heard from his sister, who had been locked in the bedroom since Nov. 7. He said he had tried calling for his sister through the locked door but did not hear anything from the couple.

Samuel said he then told Coleman he was going to call the police and tell them his sister had overdosed and was dead. About 10-to-15 minutes later, Samuel said he heard a loud explosion that rattled the entire residence and smoke was soon seen in the living room and the couple’s bedroom.

According to the report, a can of motor oil was spotted on the couch by those living inside.

One of the other roommates kicked open the bedroom door where the couple was staying and that is when Samuel said he saw the bed on fire. Samuel along with the three other roommates escaped through a window.

Another female roommate told detectives she was awakened prior to the fire, by the sound of Melynda’s car starting and then heard a loud “pop” before seeing smoke in the living room.

The female roommate also told detectives she hadn’t seen Melynda in the days leading up to the fire. According to the fire investigators, the fire started on or around the couple’s bed as a result of an open flame in the room.

During an autopsy, the coroner noted he did not observe “soot” in Melynda’s throat and believed she might have died before the fire started.

The cause and manner of death are listed as undetermined, pending the police investigation.

Coleman faces the following charges:

  • 1 count of arson, 1st degree
  • 3 counts of attempted murder
  • 3 counts of willful killing, maiming, disfiguring or poisoning animal of another

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