Suspect arrested in arson cases

Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, November 23, 2010


The Decatur County Sheriff’s Office has arrested a local woman they believe is a suspect in a string of suspicious fires set around the Black Jack community of eastern Decatur County.

Early Monday evening, Sheriff’s deputies arrested Lisa Ponder, 46, of 246 Blackjack Road, Bainbridge, and charged her with three counts of arson in the third degree.

Three brush fires were reported in the area east of Bainbridge on Monday, and deputies collected evidence that indicated Ponder was responsible for setting them, said Chief Investigator Chip Nix of the Sheriff’s Office.

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According to Capt. Nix, Monday’s fires were discovered off Carter Street in Bainbridge on land owned by Georgia Power, at a Florence Drive property and another located near the intersection of Old Whigham Dairy Road and Black Jack Road. An eyewitness told deputies they saw Ponder leave the scene of the third fire, Nix said.

Nix said investigators are aware of numerous suspicious fires that occurred in the coverage area of the Black Jack Volunteer Fire Department.

“We believe all the recent arsons are related,” Nix said. “The investigation is still ongoing, and charges against Ms. Ponder or other persons could be pending.”

While Nix declined to discuss any possible motive Ponder may have had, he said deputies had other reasons beyond physical evidence which made them classify her as a suspect.

The Sheriff’s Office has been investigating a string of arsons since late July. Four buildings were damaged or destroyed by fire on the afternoon of July 20, causing a number of local firefighters to respond to them in dangerously hot weather.