It was a textbook example of what might be called romance arson, a fire set to destroy the memory of passion scorned, investigators said Tuesday.
The gasoline explosion triggered Monday by cocktail-lounge pianist Kevin Dean Jones on his estranged girlfriend's bed in her Anaheim apartment was a typical "lover's fire," Anaheim fire investigator Mike Doty said.
Such fires, which far outnumber the more notorious, yet relatively rare, work of pyromaniacs, usually are set by those who want only to destroy the "symbol of the love they once had," Doty said, "not to self-destruct."
But before he apparently poured nearly two gallons of gasoline on Consetta DiPasqua's bed and other personal belongings ("enough to burn the whole (apartment) complex down," one investigator remarked), Jones had at least contemplated killing himself. And that alone made this lover's fire different, detectives said.
Jones, 32, of Garden Grove, who was found standing up and on fire in the hallway when firefighters arrived after the explosion, was in "extremely critical condition" late Tuesday at the UCI Medical Center with third-degree burns covering 95% of his body.
Sometime before the fire was started, Jones wrote a suicide note, pledging his love for DiPasqua, that investigators said was found in her carport.
Detectives, who said any explanation other than a suicide attempt was a remote possibility, would not reveal the full text of the note, but Anaheim Police Detective W. W. Lane said it consisted of three "thoughts" scrawled in ink. The essence of the message, he said, was "Meet me in heaven. I'll wait for you."
"Usually," Lane said Tuesday of the so-called romance arsonists, "they don't leave notes because there is no intention of doing harm to themselves. This is unusual, because it appears there was a contemplation of self-destruction along with the destruction of property," he said.
The fire and explosion rocked the Winston Isle apartment complex at about 12:30 p.m. Monday, and forced evacuation of several adjacent dwellings. Fire damage, estimated at $125,000, was confined to the one apartment.
"This is very typical of a lover's fire," Doty said. "You have a boyfriend or girlfriend who finds out (the other has) another lover. You're going to set the closet on fire or the bed. The closet (is) her personal items; the bed is a symbol of the love they once had, so he's gonna destroy it. They do that all the time.
"If you come across a closet or bed on fire, unless it's an accident, you can almost bet it's a lover's fire," Doty added.
Lighter fluid is the most common fuel used to start such fires, but gasoline is frequently used as well, Doty said. Such arson is usually the work of men, he said, but women have been known to torch an ex-lover's belongings.
Authorities said Jones, with whom DiPasqua, 29, broke up shortly after Christmas, had called Anaheim fire dispatchers twice Monday morning, threatening suicide. But he gave the wrong number, and authorities could not reach him.
"He gave us plenty of warning," Doty remarked. "We just couldn't get to him in time." DiPasqua's relatives told investigators that Jones was a pianist on a luxury liner before he began playing at a Fullerton restaurant.
Doty, reading from a statement made by Susan DiPasqua, Consetta DiPasqua's mother, said, "He wanted Connie but Connie didn't want him. . . . He kept on calling."