On Wednesday, 17-year-old Allen Strickland's Tabor City home went up in flames while he was sleeping inside.
Strickland escaped with minor injuries, and the State Bureau of Investigation is investigating the fire as a suspected arson. Strickland told WWAY's Ann McAdams that State Senator R.C. Soles gave him tens of thousands of dollars in cash to build the house just a few months ago.
WWAY obtained a copy of the deed, and it is in Strickland's name, prepared by Sen. Soles's law firm. Some of our viewers have asked how a 17-year-old can legally hold the deed to a piece of property. Strickland doesn't live with his parents, and if he's been legally emancipated from them, attorneys we've consulted say it could give him the legal right to own property, even though most people can't have property in their name until they're 18. We've been unable to confirm that Strickland has been legally emancipated by the courts.
The Columbus County Courthouse has no emancipation decree in his name, but it's possible that it was processed in another jurisdiction. Insurance adjusters visited the burned-out house Friday to survey the damage. While much of the frame remains standing, the inside of the house suffered heavy smoke and fire damage, and it could be a total loss.
We put in another call to Sen. Soles Friday for comment on this story. Once again, we did not get a return call.