Teen confesses to arson

By: Jonathan Martin Email
By: Jonathan Martin Email

April 11, 2007

AUGUSTA, Ga.---A teenager has been arrested and accused of started at least three fires in the past few weeks. Officers were able to arrest the 16-year-old after receiving a number of anonymous tips.

Because the suspect is a juvenile, he is being held at the Youth Detention Center, and we can't show you his face.

Officers say he is responsible for starting at least three recent fires in Augusta.

The blackened boards on the burnt out homes in the Harrisburg neighborhood are dark reminders of intentional fires that left several people homeless.

"We canvassed the neighborhood," said fire investigator Lt. GB Hannan. "I went to the neighborhood quite a lot, and some people came forward."

The three fires on Watkins Street all happened within the last month. Tips led authorities to a 16-yearold boy who lives in the neighborhood.

Roosevelt Tanksley is the suspect's uncle.

"I wouldn't think he'd do nothing like that," Tanksley said. "You never know, these teenagers."

Investigators say the case is not closed. They're trying to see if the boy also started a fire on Broad Street two weeks ago, and they're questioning the suspect's friend, Jonathan Johnson. Johnson was convicted of arson in 2000 and admits to being with the 16-year-old before two of the fires broke out. He says he supplied a lighter, but says that's all.

"I don't know what he did in the house, honestly," Johnson told News 12.

Johnson says he's upset because someone he considered a friend is trying to get him to take the heat.

"He recorded my phone call yesterday, trying to get me to take all the blame," Johnson said.

Whoever is to blame has left five families without a home.

Tanksley says his nephew is sorry.

"All I can say is he's crying and everything. He's sorry for what he did...but that won't change anything."

According to investigators, the boy confessed to setting the fires on Watkins Street, but has not confessed to the Broad Street fire. He is being charged with three counts of arson

The investigation continues. If you have any information, call the Augusta Fire Department at 706-821-2929. You could get up to a $10,000 reward.


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