ASHBURN, Ga. (AP) - A black couple whose home was covered in
racial epithets and torched Saturday night is accused of starting
the fire themselves.
The house owners - Patrick and Shanda Burwell - are charged with
felony arson for the fire. They were arrested late Wednesday after
an investigation by state fire experts.
"We had some suspicions we picked up on as soon as we got
there," said Ashburn Police Chief Ben Sumner. Sumner wouldn't
elaborate on why police thought the blaze and graffiti were done on
purpose. The Burwells originally told officers that they came home
from dinner to find their house on fire.
Adrian Newberry, 22, was arrested Thursday and also charged with
arson.
"He essentially made statements that the Burwells hired him to
start the fire and say it was racially motivated," said Gary
Rothwell, special agent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
After the fire, Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine
classified the fire an arson and considered filing it as a hate
crime.
State authorities also offered a $10,000 reward for information
about the culprit.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)