Local woman indicted for arson, conspiracy

Lillian Dion Burkett in court
Lillian Dion Burkett in court

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  A Columbus woman is now being officially charged in connection with an arson at a local landmark.

Fifty-year-old Lillian Dion Burkett, who is known as "Kan Kan," was indicted by a Muscogee County Grand Jury Tuesday in connection with the arson that destroyed the River Road Pharmacy.

Burkett faces charges of Arson, Conspiracy to Commit a Crime, False Report of a Crime, Insurance Fraud and False Swearing stemming from the September 2009 fire.

In the indictment, it says Burkett told her son, Bobby Jo, and their accomplice, Michael Lowery, to set fire to the pharmacy.

Columbus Fire and EMS officials say the arson was done to cover up illegal activity- namely, prescription drug use.

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.

Lillian Dion Burkett Bobby Jo Burkett, Michael Lowery and Misty Joiner, a former employee at the pharmacy, have all been charged in the case.

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

Lillian Burkett has pleaded not guilty to arson and she is out on bond awaiting trial.

In her indictment, it also says Lillian told her son and Lowery to take her Ford Expedition to Talbot County and burn it, then reported it stolen to Columbus Police and filed a false claim to her insurance. The document lists another woman, Kayla Price, as taking part in the insurance fraud.

The River Road Pharmacy reopened in its original spot last week, after more than a year of rebuilding from the fire.

Burkett's attorney, Mark Shelnutt, says the lone indictment was "unexpected" considering there are three other suspects in the case.

Shelnutt says it's unusual to have one person indicted when the document itself lists Bobby Jo and Michael Lowery as co-conspirators but he says they are preparing for the next step which is arraignment.

©2010 WTVM. All rights reserved.