Squatter suspected to be source of theft, fire - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Squatter suspected to be source of theft, fire

Howard was squatting in this house Howard was squatting in this house
Dan Humphrey Dan Humphrey
BAINBRIDGE, GA (WALB) -

Jail time isn't the only trouble a Bainbridge man is facing, after police said he broke into a neighbor's house early Tuesday morning. During the break-in, the house where the suspect was living caught on fire.

Boards were going up to replace the home's front window after a homeowner said a neighbor broke in around 6:30 a.m.

"He tore the whole window out so it has to be replaced.  When he tore it up, he actually tore the frame up with it. He was determined to go in there even if he had to tear the door down," said Dan Humphrey.

Humphrey owns the property where he said a man and a woman, who is paralyzed, live. But the woman was alone in the home Tuesday morning when Humphrey said Charles Howard broke in. "She locked herself in the room and called 911.  And they were pretty close.  They got here within minutes," Humphrey said.

Quick enough to find Howard with money and jewelry that Humphrey said was taken from the home. But shortly after arresting Howard, Bainbridge Public Safety officers received another call about a house fire right across the street from the break-in.

"He was actually living in a house across the street, an abandoned house. And at the same time they arrested him, the house caught on fire," said Humphrey.

Officers said they believe Howard left something burning on the front porch of the home when he went next door.

"I just hate it happened and I wish he had come to me. We would have helped him out," said Humphrey.  "But it looks like he's going to have to get someone else now to help him."

Howard is in custody, charged with burglary. 

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