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CAUGHT Suspected arsonist in custody

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CAUGHT Suspected arsonist in custody

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A suspected arsonist wanted in connection with an attempt to set fire to the home of two law enforcement officers in Jones County was arrested last week.

A press release from the Macon/Bibb County Sheriff’s office stated that Bibb County deputies and members of the U.S. Marshal’s Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force apprehended 31-year-old James Randall Spensley Aug. 10.

The release stated that the Jones County Sheriff’s Office received a tip that Spensley was in a stolen GMC Sierra, and the abandoned vehicle was located by Bibb County deputies on Lamar Road around 5:30 p.m., Aug. 10.

Spensley was subsequently spotted walking along Zebulon Road, headed towards Interstate 475, and was taken into custody by Bibb County Sheriff’s deputies and U.S. Marshals.

The suspect was transported to the Jones County Law Enforcement Center.

Spensley was identified as the person responsible for the July 27 attack of law enforcement officers at their Jones County residence.

Jones County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Capt. Jimmy Black said Spensley was identified through a joint effort of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Office, Houston County Sheriff’s Officer, Centerville Police Department, FBI and the U.S. Marshal Fugitive Task Force.

Black said several dozen of suspects were cleared during the investigation, but Spensley’s name came up more than once. He said, when it was found the suspect had charges pending in Jasper County, they started looking harder at him.

The pending charges against Spensley included criminal attempts to commit child molestation, obstruction, and possession of methamphetamine. The suspect also has pending theft charges in Bibb County.

The investigator said the decision to identify Spensley as the arsonist was a joint decision of all the investigators working the case.

A report of the July 27 incident by Jones County Deputy Marty Brownlee states he was dispatched to the residence at 6:13 a.m., regarding a structure fire. The fire had been extinguished prior to his arrival, and the deputy said he determined the blaze to be purposefully set shortly after he arrived.

Brownlee said the fire was started near the electric meter and had damaged the box, siding and under-boarding.

The deputy said he noticed a trail through the morning dew that appeared to be that of a motorcycle. The trail started in the neighbor’s driveway and stopped in the area of where the blaze started.

He said the fire department was called to make sure the fire was fully extinguished and Jones County Fire Chief and Arson Investigator Don Graham also came to the scene.

Brownlee said the scene was turned over to investigators.

Jones County Sheriff’s Office Investigator Maj. Earl Humphries said it was one of the neighbors who noticed the blaze and knocked on the door to alert the deputy who lived in the home.

The major said the deputy’s wife is an investigator in Jasper County and they looked at both of them as possible objects of the attack.

It was determined an accelerant had been used to start the fire and Graham confirmed their findings.

The accelerant proved to be key in the investigation. Humphries said a receipt for the same type of accelerant that was used to start the fire was found near the scene. The receipt was from Walmart and video surveillance was used to come up with a person of interest in the investigation.