Remains of 5 adults found at burned-out Temecula board-and-care home

Posted at 2:31 PM, Aug 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-30 22:24:24-04

TEMECULA, Calif. — The remains of five adults were found after a fire that gutted a board-and-care home southeast of Los Angeles, authorities said Tuesday.

The remains were found shortly before 6 a.m. Monday after fire crews doused a blaze at a home in unincorporated Temecula, according to a statement from the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.

The cause of the fire was unclear, but it was considered suspicious and arson and homicide investigators were called to the scene, authorities said.

Coroner's officials were trying to identify the remains and the cause of death.

However, a relative told the Riverside Press-Enterprise that one victim was James Jennex. State records indicate that he was the administrator at Renee Jennex Small Family Home, which was licensed to care for up to four adults with developmental disabilities.

Records list the property as the 50-year-old's last known public address.

"We have tragically lost a loved son and brother. Our love, support and prayers go out to our loved one's immediate family," Jerry Jennex, James' brother, told the newspaper. "James Jennex will be deeply missed. On behalf of our family, we also pray for and support other families who have lost loved ones in the same tragedy."

The house was one of two on a lot on Cruz Way, one of only a handful of homes set amid ranches and vineyards on a short block in an unincorporated area.

The Renee Jennex Small Family Home was licensed in 2003, and no deficiencies were found during its most recent annual inspection, according to records from the state Department of Social Services.

Sofia Villalobos, who lives down the street, told the Press-Enterprise that her husband called the Fire Department after the blaze erupted around 5 a.m. Monday and then jumped a fence to reach the site.

Told that several people were inside, her husband and another man tried to get inside the burning home, but they couldn't get in through the doorway because it was too hot, Villalobos told the paper.

They broke a window instead, but the fire got worse, she said.