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June 12, 2003

Ashburn - A house fire in Ashburn Saturday night turned into a hate crime investigation after racial slurs were found painted on the burning home.

Police say Patrick and Shanda Burwell hired someone to vandalize and torch their house. "There were just several suspicions we were looking at when we arrived on the scene the night of the initial call," says Ashburn Police Chief Ben Sumner, "and at that point is when we notified the Georgia Bureau of Investigation."

Burwell and wife Shanda have both been arrested for setting their own home on fire. And apparently, police think 22-year old Adrian Newberry, was hired to torch the house. He also has been arrested.

The Burwell's home was foreclosed on and slated for public auction on July first. Neighbor Brad Christian thinks this is a little suspicious "According to what I've been told their house has been foreclosed on," Christian says. "That in itself leads me to believe, and a lot of people around here that there possibly is some suspicious motive to their house being burned down. "

Close family friend Bob McKenzie says Shanda Burwell should not be in jail. He says, "We would get the head of the household. I can see them putting him in jail under suspicion, but not my little girl. I need some answers."

Police say arson charges are just the first of many that may be brought against the Burwells for this crime. Bond has not been set at this time.

posted at 7:19 by karen.collier@walb.com

 

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