What to Know
- Jerry Maxfield, 18, was trapped in his upstairs bedroom in Irvington, New Jersey when a fire broke out, killing him
- The newly graduated honors student from Newark Prep was an ordained minister who recently gave his first sermon
- He also recently took the written test to join the Marines, and wanted to become a police chief after that
An 18-year-old ordained minister and police cadet was killed in a New Jersey house fire Thursday morning, leaving his family reeling over the loss of a man with a promising future.
Jeremiah Maxfield was trapped in his bedroom in his family's home on Arverne Terrace in Irvington when the fire broke out.
"Flames shot up, I woke up, tried to get everyone out," said Cornelius Maxfield, Jeremiah's older brother. "But God had other plans."
Jeremiah -- or Jerry, as everyone called him -- was found dead in his upstairs bedroom.
The Essex County prosecutor's office is investigating the cause of the fire, and whether the house had smoke detectors.
"He attracted many youth and was a great encourager and evangelist for the Lord, and he will be missed," said Jerry's uncle, also named Jeremiah Maxfield.
Maxfield spent most of his free time at the Gravel Hill Baptist Church in Newark, where he was an ordained minister and recently gave his first sermon.
"He loved life, he loved God and he had a pure soul and a pure heart," said brother Nehemiah Williams.
Maxfield had just graduated with honors from Newark Prep Charter School, where his classmates voted him most outgoing and most likely to get married to his girlfriend, Tempest. The young man who served as a Newark police cadet and who loved country music was a natural leader, friends said.
"He was very clever and analytic," said David Disu. "The guy you would aspire to be at such a young age."
"He was a really good friend to all of us. Everyone loved him," said Aushalenn Baskerville.
Maxfield had taken the written test to join the military and was planning to enlist in the Marines. From there, his family says his dream ever since he was a little boy, was to become a police chief.