Two people arrested and charged with arson

By Laura Ann Sills - email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - After a third and fourth arson at the Park Crest Mobile Home Park in Columbus, Fire and EMS officials beefed up patrols and began knocking door to door trying to find those responsible.

Chief Thomas Streeter said, "We got a few descriptions of some people and we followed up on that and it resulted in two arrests."

22-year-old Rebecca Betham and 29-year-old Alonzo Perkins are each charged with four counts of arson and four counts of theft by taking.

Fire officials tell News Leader Nine they are believed to have stolen copper from each trailer before setting the fires to cover their tracks.

The Mobile Home Park owner, John Melton, said he knew one of those arrested. "I had evicted the person a while back and then a private owner let him move in and then they evicted them again," explained Melton.

He also said that arson may not be his biggest problem.  "When they do that, they destroy my units. I have probably about 20 units that are completely destroyed from stealing copper.  I have tried to talk to the scrap metal people about it, and it has been very difficult," said Melton.

Melton claims the loss from the four fires is about $20,000 worth of damage.  He said he filed his insurance claim on the trailers Tuesday.

Fire investigators continue to follow other leads and say there is a possibility of other arrests.

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