Authorities in Georgia say a homeowner resorted to arson when faced with a foreclosure against the spacious estate.
According to the New York Post, 68-year-old Stanley Edward Stephens was arrested along with his alleged accomplice after the nearly 6,000-square-foot Silver Creek residence was left in ruins from a February blaze.
Last year, Regions Bank reportedly foreclosed on the property — valued at about $500,000 — that Stephens purchased in 2000.
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As Fire Marshal Mary Catherine Chewning explained in a statement, the fire showed evidence that an accelerant was used to spread the fire.
“We have reason to believe multiple fires were set within the structure,” she said.
Chewning did not provide a possible motive nor did she expand on the relationship between the two suspects.
The fire marshal combined the value of the property with the investment of money and manpower into the ensuing investigation to give the case a $2.5 million price tag, As the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.
As a result of that intensive investigation, officials identified Stephens and Donald Eric Luallen as suspects. Luallen was arrested on Monday in Alabama and authorities in Florida took Stephens into custody on Wednesday.
Both suspects are both expected to face criminal charges including a felony count of arson with additional counts likely to be added.
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[Featured image: Stanley Edward Stephens, Volusia County Sheriff’s Office/Donald Eric Luallen, Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office]