The owner of a mansion in Georgia that burned down in a massive blaze after the residence went into foreclosure is now facing felony arson charges, authorities said.
Stanley Edward Stephens — who owned the $500,000, 5,900-square-foot home in Silver Creek that was reduced to smoldering ash in February — and his associate, Donald Eric Luallen, were arrested this week in what investigators are calling one of the largest cases of arson in Floyd County history, the Rome News-Tribune reports.
Tax records show that Stephens, 68, bought the home in 2000 and owned it until it was foreclosed upon. Regions Bank then took ownership of the residence last April, according to an arrest warrant.
Fire Marshal Mary Catherine Chewning said the stately abode was burned to the ground with the help of accelerant.
“We have reason to believe multiple fires were set within the structure,” Chewning told reporters during a press conference on Thursday, adding that investigators spent more than 300 hours and traveled roughly 1,000 miles throughout the course of the investigation.
The exact relationship between Stephens and Luallen is unclear, according to Chewning, who declined to disclose a suspected motive in the Feb. 10 arson fire.
More charges are expected in the case, Chewning said.
Stephens was arrested late Wednesday in Florida, near Daytona Beach, while Luallen was taken into custody Monday in Oxford, Alabama. Both are facing first-degree arson charges. Luallen is also charged with second-degree criminal damage to property, the Rome News-Tribune reports.
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