Good detective work solves arson -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Good detective work solves arson

April 3, 2007

Boston-- Investigators say on March 20th Ruby Mae Brooks tried to burn the home that belonged to her stepson.  The man who owned the home, Charles Brooks, died several weeks before the fire.

The fire that severely damaged the Grooverville Road home in Boston initially seemed suspicious to investigators.

"When I got out there, I took a look at the fire scene, and it was obvious that it was an intentionally set fire," said Bob Brettel, and investigator with the Thomas County Sheriff's Office.

The fire started at the back, outside of the house.  These signs that it was intentional were obvious- but who set the fire was a mystery.  Investigators had one piece of evidence - a small red gas can found near the scene.   "We went to the local businesses, to determine if someone had recently sold any small red gas containers," Brettel said. 

They got lucky with a business in Thomasville.   "They had sold two, one on the date prior to the fire, and one on the date of the fire," said Brettel. 

Using the information stored in the bar code in the gas can, investigators were able to get the date, time and exact register where the cans were purchased. Then they used the surveillance footage from the camera at that register to get a picture of their suspect.

The surveillance footage showed a woman buying the gas cans, and also a book of matches. Their work wasn't done yet.  "Then we went to a business in Boston to determine if someone had purchased some gasoline and put in a small container like this," Brettel said.

More surveillance footage captured the same woman filling up identical gas cans. When investigators asked around, they still didn't know her name, but found out the road the woman lived on. 

"We went up to the house and knocked on the door and low and behold the lady that was in the video, answered the door," said Brettel.  Forty-one-year-old Ruby Mae Brooks was arrested and charged with two counts of first degree arson.

"We had nothing to begin with and on a fluke we said let's just go do this, and we did and on both occasions we found something," Brettel said.

During questioning, Brooks denied starting the fire. Investigators still haven't established a motive, but say they feel the evidence is strong.

Brooks is charged with two counts of arson, because investigators think she attempted to set the same house on fire the night before.




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