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Man charged with arson in house fire

Suspect was arrested Tuesday, denied bond Wednesday

POSTED: September 22, 2012 4:00 p.m.

A man has been arrested and faces charges in connection with an early-morning Sept. 15 fire that destroyed a Gum Branch-area home, where a woman lived with her daughter.

The woman’s estranged husband, Raymond Wade Ray, has been charged with arson, burglary and cruelty to animals, according to the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office. He was denied bond by a magistrate court judge and is being held at the Liberty County Jail.

Liberty County Fire Coordinator James Ashdown said Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Weyman Chapman found Ray walking on Mobley Road carrying a weapon about three hours before the fire was discovered. Chapman ran the weapon’s serial number, and it came back clean.

Later that day, as fire investigators sifted through the burned home’s rubble, they discovered a charred weapon and ran its serial number. They learned the charred weapon was the same one Ray had been carrying earlier.

Investigators are not sure what started the fire, but Ray has been charged with arson, burglary and cruelty to an animal for the death of the family’s pet dog.

He was arrested Tuesday afternoon while a search warrant was executed. Items from the burned home were found at Ray’s residence on Highway 196. He was denied bond on Wednesday.

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