An investigation initiated in mid October 2010, by the George County Sheriff’s Department has resulted in the arrest of a local Volunteer Firefighter, 31 year old Joshua Daniel Easter of 313 Pecan Circle.
After the George County Fire Investigators Mike Walker and Joe Sullivan were provided with unusual circumstances surrounding local fire scenes they contacted Deputy State Fire Marshal (DSFM) Mitchell D. Mixon for assistance with the fire investigations.
The Investigators and Mixon continued to develop information on the fires which led them in the direction of Firefighter Easter. Due to the last fires occurring in the Pecan Circle and this housing property receiving federal subsidizing DSFM Mixon requested assistance from ATF Special Agents, Daniel Hebert and Shane Lynes.
On December 13, 2010, Easter was booked into the George County Regional Correctional Facility on unrelated charges from the Lucedale Police Department. On December 14, 2010, Mixon and Agents Hebert and Lynes interviewed Easter in relation to the fires. During this interview sufficient information which corroborated the evidence collected during the fire scene examinations. The information obtained along with the evidence obtained supported Joshua Daniel Easter being charged with the following crimes.
October 19, 2010
Woods Fire on Country Hill Lane
October 23, 2010
Woods Fire on Amber Lane
October 24, 2010
House Fire at 182 Inland Beach Road $100,000.00
October 29, 2010
House Fire on Hwy 198 West, just west of railroad overpass. $40,000.00
November 6, 2010
House Fire at 8141 Hwy 198 East $300,000.00
November 22, 2010
House Fire at 302 Pecan Circle Federal Level $90,000.00
December 9, 2010
House fire at 517 Pecan Circle Federal Level $45,000.00
Estimated loss: $440,000.00 $135,000.00
Total Estimated Loss: $575,000.00
If convicted on all charges on the State level, Mr. Easter faces up to, two (2) years each on the woods arson charges and up to twenty (20) years on each of the 1st degree (House fire) charges for a total up to 64 years imprisonment. In addition he is facing an estimated $440,000.00 in restitution and up to an additional $2,000.00 in fines plus an undetermined amount of court cost.
Due to the two fires in Pecan Circle being against the federal subsidized property, these cases will be examined to determine if they will be pursued on the federal level. If not, they will be reinstated to the local state court system
The outcome of these cases are a result of fire officials alerting the George County Sheriff’s Department of the unusual circumstances and the unity of the Local, State and Federal law enforcement agencies to work together for a common goal.
DSFM Mixon stated the public shouldn’t feel any less protected due to one individual’s actions. The Volunteer Firefighters as a whole are a great asset and provide a professional service that is much needed to our citizens.
George County Sheriff, Tony Keel stresses fires place citizens, firefighters and law enforcement in harm’s way each and every time they occur. He further adds, the crime of Arson affects each individual who pays home owners insurance and to help better protect the citizens and properties within George County, anyone with information related to the crime of arson are asked to contact the George County Sheriff’s Department.
Law Enforcement Agencies involved with the investigation were:
George County Sheriff’s Department
Mississippi Forestry Criminal Investigative Division
Mississippi State Fire Marshal’s Office
Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF)
Authorized for release by Sheriff John A. Keel