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Second sister arrested in arson case

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Second sister arrested in arson case

Teresa Dickerson Releford

            Bulloch County Sheriff's investigators arrested the second of two sisters Thursday they said were involved in an arson and insurance scam.

            Teresa Dickerson Releford, 42, Old River Road North, was charged with first degree arson and insurance fraud after setting her sister's Skye Drive mobile home on fire last fall, said Bulloch County Sheriff's Inv. Jason Long.

            The sister, Walter Mae Powell, 44, was arrested " a few weeks ago," he said, charged with four counts of insurance fraud.

            Releford lived in the Skye Drive home her sister owned, where she once kept special needs children, he said. But after losing that source of income for undisclosed reasons, she got behind on bills, including lot rent - but she didn't stop paying her renter's insurance, he said.

            The insurance fraud charge stems from trying to collect on that policy after she set the home on fire, he said.

             Powell had four different insurance policies on the home, Long said, which resulted in her being charged with four counts of fraud.

            On Nov. 6, 2007,  firefighters responded to the scene on Skye Drive, located off Pulaski Road, and soon discovered clear evidence of arson, he said. "There were two points of origin. We located pine straw stuffed in a cupboard and behind the washer and dryer."

            A flammable liquid had been used to douse the straw, and " there was a pour pattern" between the two locations, he said.

            The home suffered moderate damage.

            Investigators were delayed in arresting Releford because of her involvement in another investigation, in which she was not charged, he said. Powell was arrested a couple of weeks earlier.

            Long said insurance fraud and arson is common in the family, as another relative was charged in the past for alleged involvement a Garden City fire. The brother, Elgie Dickerson, was arrested when he filed in Bulloch County to collect on an insurance policy regarding the property burned, he said.

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