COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Officials in the Columbus Fire Department are searching for a fourth suspect in the River Road Pharmacy arson.
The Columbus landmark was gutted by fire nearly a year ago.
Now, a former employee at the pharmacy is wanted in connection with its demise.
Twenty-nine-year-old Misty Joiner is facing charges of arson, criminal damage to property and making false statements.
In June, fire officials told News Leader 9 they believe forged prescriptions and doctor shopping played a part in the pharmacy arson.
Lillian Dion Burkett, her son Bobby Jo Burkett and Michael Lowery have also been charged with the crime which they've pled not guilty to.
Authorities are being tight-lipped on the fire investigation but tell WTVM the trio spearheaded a local oxycontin ring. While they're not facing drug charges in connection with the arson, fire investigators say they tried to push faulty prescriptions thru the River Road Pharmacy. The owner notified the cops, according to police reports.
"They were definitely involved in it. The illegal prescription drug use and some of the illegal activity that goes with it was definitely part of the motive for the arson," Assistant Chief Jerry Fountain told WTVM in a special report on oxycontin that aired back in June.
According to an indictment, Michael Lowery allegedly tried to use a forged prescription for oxycontin at the River Road Pharmacy in February of 2009, just months before it caught fire in September.
Bobby Jo Burkett pled guilty to the sale of oxycontin in January and was sentenced to probation.
"We almost lost four very dedicated, brave firefighters who put their lives on the line every day regardless of the situation but here they are responding to an incident that was to cover up an illegal act and these young people almost lost their lives. For us as a department, we take that extremely personal," Fountain added in the interview.
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