BEAUMONT, Texas — Southeast Texans are mourning the loss of a man they say was a pillar in the community.
The body of Jason West, 41, was found badly burned in the remains of a house fire on Friday morning, October 7, 2022, in the 4500 block of Dallas Ave.
Beaumont Police are now ruling his death a homicide and believe the fire was not an accident.
West was an associate minister at House of Prayer Missionary Baptist Church for six years. Those who knew him said his death is a big loss for the community.
Reverend David Pouncy said West was a gentle giant who would spend his time at the church helping elderly members and signing backup in the choir.
Reverend Pouncy said the last time he spoke to West was on October 7, only 48 hours before West's body was discovered following a fire at his home.
"I was at lunch with my wife I get a phone call saying it was Jason's house, and I jumped up and left that's when I saw what happened I couldn't believe that happened," Reverend Pouncy said. "How could you hurt him? How could you do such a thing? That let me know how this world could be so cruel."
Reverend Pouncy said West was preparing to refocus his ministry on working with the elderly, but never got a chance.
West worked at the church for six years.
"It use to always tickle me because he wouldn't let any of the elderly leave unless he helped them down the steps or walk them to their car at night for Wednesday night prayer meeting. I thought that was so nice of him to take that position," Reverend Pouncy said.
West's loved ones are still in shock on how something like this could happen to him.
"He's a big miss," Reverend Pouncy said. "He's been a big miss to us second Sunday. We were all in shock but the third Sunday it was like wow I can't believe this I was expecting to see him come through the door and say I'm here pastor, but it was a big big loss."
West's funeral is being held Saturday, October 22 at Borden Chapel Baptist Church located at 3495 Roland Road in Beaumont. Visitation begins at 12 p.m., with the funeral following at 1 p.m.
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Police said they believe Channin Keon Ardoin, 39, of Beaumont, took West's car and drove it to Huntington, Texas, on Friday according to the news release.
Huntington is on U.S. Highway 69 about 97 miles north of Beaumont.
Ardoin fled after he was spotted driving the victim's Hyundai by a Huntington Police officer the release said.
He wrecked the car in the parking lot of a Metal Mart on U.S. Highway 69 in Lufkin and then ran away according to Beaumont Police. He has not yet been found police say.
Beaumont Police Officer Carol Riley says Ardoin has a warrant out of Harris County, but not in Jefferson County, yet.
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