Talbotton family targeted by arsonists twice in one week

By Taylor Barnhill  - bio | email | Twitter

TALBOTTON, GA (WTVM) -  A Talbotton family is cleaning up the remains after someone set fire to their car last week and suddenly the arsonists struck again.

"Someone came in my yard early Monday morning a little after seven and set my car on fire. Me and my son put out the fire," Linda Leonard told News Leader Nine.

Just when the Leonard family was counting their blessings for surviving one fire, when Linda says another one flamed up, "Yesterday [Saturday] morning about the same time someone came and set my old house on fire."

Fire investigators tell the family the arsonists used an accelerant, bottles and old rags to create a Molotov cocktail to start the fire.

Charlie Leonard explained, "It started from a Molotov cocktail on the house and I'm not sure how it happened on the car. He found two bottles lying on the ground."

Leonard said drug dealers are to blame, "I am pretty sure they paid some crack addict or drug addict to come out here and commit these acts."

Fortunately no one was hurt, but now the Leonard's, who also own the funeral home down the street, have to clean up their charred possessions.

Linda Leonard said, "We were getting ready to remodel it so my son could move back in. But we kept a lot of equipment in it for the funeral home -- chairs, furniture, clothes, flower racks, exercise equipment, valuable things."

Linda says it's hard for them to sleep at night, knowing another fire could be set on their property, "The word on the street is they're coming back for my house and the funeral home."

But Charlie Leonard says they find strength in their faith, "We are confident we'll be able to survive this intact. We are believers in God and we will continue to believe in God and we'll be alright."

Talbot County Sheriff Herman Howard tells News Leader Nine, his deputies have stepped up patrols in the area.

The Leonard's are offering a reward for anyone who has information on the two arsons.

The State Fire Marshal is scheduled to continue the investigation.

State Representative Debbie Buckner has been friends with the Leonard's for years.  Through her work, she is also very involved in the Talbot community.  She explained, "There have been a number of crimes and fires that have occurred over the years that are unsolved.  Because this family is eager to have justice, we are eager to help them do that." Buckner said people in Talbot are getting to the point where they want something done about the crime.  Her advice is to use elections to turn the situation around.  Another way is to have involved citizens, "People have to be willing to tell what we see.  They have to feel they can do that without negative repercussions."

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