Man accused of setting uncle’s house on fire

COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A Whiteville man is in jail after officials say he intentionally try to burn down a relative’s home that he was staying in.

Columbus County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Unit and Columbus County Fire Marshal’s Office have completed a joint investigation of a structure fire that happened at 166 Johnny George Road in Whiteville. As a result, Gebriel Jermaine Shipman has been charged for intentionally setting the fire.

On April 12 at approximately 6:30 a.m., the Columbus County Deputy Fire Marshall was dispatched to the home on Johnny George Road. Columbus County Sheriff’s Office was notified to assist with the investigation.

The home belonged to Thomas Baldwin of Whiteville. Baldwin allowed his nephew, Shipman, to live at the home. Shipman reported that he came home from work that morning, to find that the interior of the house had been burned.

During the investigation, tips led investigators to consider Shipman a person of interest. Shipman obtained a renter’s insurance policy in March 2018. However, throughout the investigation, Shipman allegedly lied to investigators about having an insurance policy. Shipman contacted the insurance company the same day as the fire, to initiate a claim.

Investigators learned that the mortgage payments for the property were past due. Shipman was paying the mortgage payments directly to the lender. Therefore, Baldwin was unaware of any issues with the mortgage. On March 7, a representative from the mortgage company met with Shipman concerning the late mortgage payments. At that time, the home was fully furnished with Shipman’s belongings. Investigators found the home to be minimally furnished when they responded to the fire. The investigation revealed that Shipman had removed his personal belongings prior to the fire.

On April 11, Shipman used available materials to ignite the furniture, window coverings, and various other items inside of the residence. He then left the residence to burn. When he arrived home from work on the 12th, he dialed 911 to report the fire.

On June 13, Gebriel Shipman was arrested without incident at 105 Covey Run Apartments in Whiteville. He is in the Columbus County Law Enforcement Center under a $10,000 unsecured bond.

1 felony count of Insurance Fraud
1 felony count of Attempting to Obtain Property by False Pretense
1 felony count of Fraudulently Burning a Dwelling.

Categories: Columbus, Local

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