PHOENIX — A 19-year-old man facing charges in a suspicious house fire and
the death of a 13-year-old girl says the girl told him she no longer wanted to
live, according to court documents released Monday.
Tashawn Trevon Cheatham was booked Saturday on charges of first-degree murder,
arson and theft. His bond was set at $1 million.
The charges stem from last week’s fire at Briana Naylor’s home. Firefighters
found the girl with burns on her arms and legs in a bedroom in the house hours
after her mother had reported her as a runaway.
In an interview with police, Cheatham said Naylor had asked him to kill her and
then wrapped a sheet around her neck. She allegedly held onto one end while he
pulled the other, according to the documents.
Naylor stopped moving, but Cheatham said he didn’t know whether she was dead or
alive. He then told police he went into the girl’s mother’s room and set a
mattress on fire and set another fire in her brother’s room. He set a third fire
in Naylor’s room, according to the documents.
The girl’s mother told police she had allowed Cheatham, a friend of her older
son, to stay the night at the home and that when she left for work that morning,
she woke up her children so they could get ready for school. Naylor was in her
bedroom and Cheatham was on the couch.
Cheatham is also accused of stealing and trying to sell the family dog at a
nearby liquor store. Police said video surveillance shows Cheatham with the dog
and pictures of the animal were found on his cellphone.
Police on Monday released photos of the dog and asked for the public’s help in
It wasn’t immediately clear Monday if an attorney had been appointed for
Cheatham. He was scheduled to appear in court Friday.