Dawson man killed, house set ablaze - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Dawson man killed, house set ablaze

GBI-Sylvester-Special Agent in Charge Kim Baker GBI-Sylvester-Special Agent in Charge Kim Baker

A Dawson man was shot to death three hours after someone set his house on fire.  Police investigators found 41-year-old Walter Bell shot multiple times in his backyard Thursday morning about 4:30.

That was after firefighters were called around 1:30AM for a fire at the First Avenue home. Bell was alive and well when firefighters left.

As would be expected, people in Dawson are shaken over the arson and murder of one of their neighbors. The GBI isn't saying much about a motive in the case, but neighbors are wondering if he was robbed.

Fire fighters shoveled burned clothing and debris out of the window of the First Avenue southeast home. The state fire Marshall is investigating but the GBI is saying little about how that fire started other than they suspect arson. 

 Kim The fire department responded and put out the fire That was around 1:30 this morning, but three hours later 911 got a call from neighbors who heard several gunshots.

"The police responded and found a male outside on the ground who appeared to be shot," said GBI-Sylvester-Special Agent in Charge Kim Baker.

 Word quickly spread through the neighborhood Walter Bell had been shot dead. Bell's roommate tells us he wasn't home, and stayed across town. He says Bell just moved back to Dawson three months ago and had come into some money.

Many say he was a quiet man.  "He was a quiet man, stayed to himself, that's all I really know about him," said the roommate's Niece.

Neighbors tell us Bell often walked the streets, always with his backpack. Some say it had a large amount of cash inside, and that may be a motive for the crime.

"You don't even know what people got in their minds, because they walk around, they don't have a job, they don't have nothing to do but hurt people and rob people," said a neighbor.

 All the GBI will say it they're looking into the claims.  "We're still substantiating that too at this time," said Baker.

When we asked if a gun had been recovered from the crime scene, or if investigators were questioning anyone, we were told the GBI had no comment.

Investigators spent most of the morning talking with neighbors and family members. They're asking anyone with information on the crime to contact the Dawson Police or the GBI. Bell's body will be sent to the crime lab in Macon Friday morning.

This isn't the first murder on First Street SE. In 2008, 68-year old Lucious Buchanan, A well-known landlord and church leader, was shot in his First Avenue home. No one was ever arrested in that case.


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