Arson suspected in recent fires

Published 6:48 pm Friday, July 24, 2009

Decatur County Sheriff’s investigators were called in to investigate a number of fires that took place in Climax.

On July 18, deputies met with Climax Fire Chief Greg Kelly, who reported that he had gone to Bradwell Laster Road in Climax to check on a grist mill that had apparently burned on or around July 14. When he arrived he discovered an abandoned mobile home across the road on fire. The Climax Volunteer Fire Department responded and extinguished the fire.

According to incident reports, Deputy Daryl Long met with a homeowner who lives in the area whom expressed concerns about several recent fires taking place in the area. Firefighters confirmed that there had been approximately eight fires that have occurred recently in that area.

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Investigators Brian Donalson and Crime Scene Investigator Capt. Gayle Bowyer were called to investigate the fire. According to reports, inside the mobile home they discovered a shirt and a bottle with paper stuffed inside, which were taken as evidence.

The owner of the mobile home was contacted and informed about the fire.

The case in still under investigation. Anyone who sees suspicious activity around abandoned structures is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 248-3044 or Bainbridge Public Safety at 248-2038.

Sheriff’s Office assists in search

On Tuesday, July 21, Sheriff’s deputies responded to a residence in southwestern Decatur County to help search for an inmate who escaped from the Florida State Hospital in Chattahoochee, Fla.

The inmate, Cassandra Gann, escaped from the facility on July 19, according to incident reports.

Chief Deputy Jim Morris said after speaking with hospital employees, he learned the area around the hospital had been thoroughly searched and it was believed that Gann had gotten into a vehicle after escaping.

Two days later, on July 21, an employee of the hospital, who lives on Dell Road in Decatur County, reported having seen Gann in the employee’s home the night she escaped. The employee told investigators she awoke and saw Gann in the home and after turning to awaken her husband, Gann was gone. Morris said she recounted going back to sleep but later hearing a sliding glass door at the home close.

Morris and several other DCSO investigators responded to the home along with officers from Gadsden County Sheriff’s Office, Chattahoochee Police Department and the Florida State Hospital.

Tracking dogs from the Apalachee Correctional Institution and Florida State Hospital attempted to pick up a scent but were unsuccessful.

According to the Chattahoochee Police Department, Gann was located and returned to the hospital on Thursday.