Coffee County arson suspects could face federal charges, U.S attorney says

Local News

COFFEE COUNTY, Ala. (WDHN) — Last month, Car City Auto Sales was intentionally set on fire, destroying more than two dozen vehicles and several buildings on the complex.

Clio residents Dezareae Wiggins and Charles Jones have each been charged with arson at Thursday news conference. A delegation of local, state, and federal authorities discussed the investigation, which led to the arrests.

Louis Franklin, U.S. attorney for the middle district of Alabama, said the magnitude of the case may send it to the federal court.

“Again, at this time, I can’t say if they’ll be a federal prosecution,” Franklin said. “Our role is a supportive role. We are looking at whether we can develop federal charges.”

The business owners estimate the total damage at more than a million dollars.

Jerry Sheppard II is the son of the owner of Car City along Highway 231 in northern Coffee County.

“Just watching the memories of the fire go down, and also a lot of money that we lost, and a lot of families was out of a job for a while too so when they done it, they affected a lot of people,” Sheppard said.

An agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said not many details could be released on how the fire was started.

“Unfortunately, we are so early in this case I can’t speak to specific details,” agent Jennifer Rudden-Conway said.

Although a motive for the arson has not been made public, WDHN has learned the two suspects are related to the business owner.

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