Courtesy of Emma Dennis

Ithaca Police said the blaze in the early morning of Wednesday on South Hill was set by Joshua Reeves, who died in his jail cell on Friday.

November 26, 2017

Man Accused of Ithaca Arson Dies in Jail Cell

Print More

The man arrested this week and accused of starting a house fire died in his Tompkins County Jail cell on Friday morning in a reported suicide.

Joshua Reeves, of Dryden, who was arrested early Wednesday morning for arson in connection with the house fire at 120 Hudson St., died at 10:58 a.m. on Friday, the Tompkins County Sheriff’s Department said in a release.

The Ithaca Voice, citing a person familiar with the situation, reported that Reeves had hung himself in his cell.

The sheriff’s office said in a media release that the “death does not appear to be suspicious in nature and there is no indication of foul play” and that “a determination into the cause of death is still under investigation.”

Joshua Reeves

Courtesy of Ithaca Police

Joshua Reeves

Emergency responders arrived at the three-story duplex on South Hill around 1:20 a.m. Wednesday to find it “heavily involved with fire,” Ithaca Fire Lt. Tom Basher said. The seven occupants of the building all escaped without injury and no other nearby houses were damaged.

Police arrested Reeves shortly after noon on Wednesday and charged him with arson in the second degree, Ithaca Police said in a release. Reeves was arraigned in Ithaca City Court and was remanded to the Tompkins County Jail in lieu of $10,000 cash or $20,000 bond.

Reeves may have believed that one of the occupants of the house was having a relationship with his girlfriend, The Voice reported, citing Ithaca City Court documents.

The man Reeves believed was having a relationship with his girlfriend told police that Reeves had been sending him threatening text messages, The Voice reported. Reeves was driven to the house by a teenager and his cousin.

The teenager told police that his dad asked him to drive Reeves to pick up a food stamp card. The teenager said that Reeves got out at Hudson Street and was gone for about 15 minutes, during which time they could not see what Reeves was doing, the court documents reportedly said.

After that time, the teenager said that Reeves came running back to the car as the flames started and yelled at him to drive away.

When the teenager dropped Reeves off at his house on Dryden, the teenager said he immediately called an adult who told him to report the incident to police, The Voice reported.

University Resources: Members of the Cornell community seeking support can call Cornell Health Services’ Counseling and Psychological Services (607-255-5155), EARS peer counseling (607-255-3277), the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (607-255-2673), the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or find additional resources at