KINGSPORT, Tenn. (WJHL) — A Kingsport woman charged with first-degree murder following an investigation into a suspicious house fire told police she strangled her mother until she stopped breathing, then started the fire and left the house, a police affidavit states.
Joie Dawes was arraigned Wednesday and is charged with killing Martha Dozier, 65, at her home on 2416 Westmoreland Ave Saturday, then setting fire to the house and leaving. She also faces charges of aggravated arson and tampering with or fabricating evidence.
Kingsport Police Department (KPD) Detective Kevin Ewing’s affidavit states he began investigating Saturday after fire officials deemed the fire suspicious. The investigation found video evidence of Dawes leaving the house about six minutes before flames became visible.
Police found Dawes at an abandoned house on Tennessee Street Tuesday, and the affidavit says she waived her Miranda rights and agreed to an interview. She told interviewers that she straddled her mother during the argument while her mother was lying on her back and that she intended to kill Dozier, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit states that Dawes and her mother have “a history of argumentative behaviour.”
Dawes told police that after strangling Dozier she started a fire in the living room fireplace using a blanket and waited until the house was on fire before leaving, according to the affidavit.
Court records show Dawes’s history includes two aggravated assault convictions, including a 2019 case in which she was reportedly strangling a woman at a hospital emergency room before patients and security intervened and stopped her.
A judge set Dawes’s next court hearing for March 23.