Columbus landmark reopens after arson fire

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  J. Logan looks right at home filling prescriptions at the newly rebuilt River Road Pharmacy after a year of rebuilding from a fire that left his entire business in ashes.

At first, Columbus Fire officials thought the blaze was electrical, starting somewhere in the attic. But after six months of investigating, they ruled it an arson and officials say it was set to cover up illegal activity, namely, prescription drug use.

Four people have been arrested and charged in the case- Lillian Dion Burkett, her son Bobby Jo Burkett, Michael Lowery and Misty Joiner, a former employee at the pharmacy.

The owner says his staff is trying to move on from what happened, focusing on the day to day operations of the pharmacy and store.

"I still haven't heard the full details of the case. We're just trying to take one day at a time and keep the business operating and everything looks good right now," Logan told WTVM.

As for the suspects, they've pleaded not guilty to arson charges. While they don't face drug charges in the case, fire officials say they spear headed a local OxyContin ring, getting prescriptions from a number of different doctors and pushing the faulty scripts through River Road.

"It's really great, great to be able to go in and get service. I wouldn't go anywhere else. I hate that any arson happened but it's good to see them back up and prospering," said customer Jay Syfrett.

"I'm thrilled that it's back and that it's renovated. It's looks so nice and the store is beautiful," added another customer, Natalie Vonhilsheimer.

"It's bigger and better than ever. It's a beautiful store. Everyone's worked hard to get it here. Glad to be here," Logan added.

Kristy Dugan, the Arson Prosecutor for the District Attorney's Office, says the suspects in the River Road Pharmacy arson case have not yet been indicted.

She says the case should go before a Muscogee County Grand Jury "soon" but would not say exactly when.

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