Couple says man accused of killing three and burning their bodies was defending himself

POSTED: 7:21 PM Jun 24 2013   UPDATED: 9:14 AM Jun 25 2013
CHICO, Calif. -

A Butte County couple spoke out about the triple homicide near Magalia.

Nick and Angela Salerno said they know the suspect, 72-year-old Don Clark, and they said he had previously expressed concern to them about 17-year-old Richard Jones, Jr. telling them that he was armed and dangerous.

They said on Monday that they believe that Clark was defending himself.

“This is a shock to everyone.  He is a nice man,” said Angela Salerno.

“I mean you can ask anyone in the canyon he's a great guy.  Everybody knows him,” said Nick Salerno.

The Salernos are among a number of people News Channel 7 has spoken with who are shocked that Don Clark now stands accused of killing three people and burning their bodies.

According to the Salernos, Clark found himself in a violent encounter with one of the victims – a teen he spoke about before.

“Hey, you got to watch for him.  He robbed me and he did this and that and basically took off to Sacramento,” said Clark, according to Nick Salerno.

Jones is known to have stayed on Clark’s property for the past three summers.  The Salernos said that Clark introduced Jones to them back in November at a community event and said that Jones kept to himself.

“I just went up to him and told him about my karate class that I do here and it's free and he could come and join up,” said Nick Salerno.

Nick says Jones never came and right around the same time, Clark started warning the Salernos about him.

“He told us that he had a troubled past and that's what we thought he was doing.  That's what Don does by helping out the kids,” said Nick Salerno.

Both Nick and Angela said they could not believe what happened on June 12,  but they firmly believe Clark was defending himself.

“He was innocent [and] protecting himself but you know we just can't say what was going through his mind after that happened,” said Angela Salerno.

 “If he was closer to town, he would have called the police but you're 20 miles away from nothing and you have a shotgun you're going to protect yourself,” said Nick Salerno.

The other two victims have been identified as 15-year-old Roland Lowe, a friend of Jones, and 46-year-old colleen Lowe, Roland's mother.

Meanwhile, both Nick and Angela say they want to start a fund to help Don Clark with his legal fees.

Clark is due in court on Tuesday morning.