Randy Bishop of Georgia Arson Control on Wednesday presented former Sunbury resident Willow Duncan with a $2,500 check for her role in convicting the arsonist who burned down an abandoned store in Sunbury.
Duncan recalled sitting on her porch when her grandson said he smelled something burning. After checking the house, Duncan resumed her phone conversation, assuming that someone was burning wood nearby.
Shortly thereafter, Duncan said she looked up and saw fire coming from the abandoned building two doors down. She said she immediately hung up and dialed 911.
Duncan said that as she waited for authorities to arrive, she noticed a man standing in front of the building, watching it burn. She said that she clearly saw his face and recognized him as someone she’d seen around the neighborhood.
Duncan said the man stood in front of the burning building until police arrived, at which point he calmly walked away. When authorities asked if she could identify the man, she said “Yes.”
“I don’t ever forget a face,” Duncan said. “I’m going to always remember that face.”
Duncan said she identified the man in a photo lineup.
According to Bishop, the Georgia Arson Control Program is a 501-C-6 organization that is sponsored by the state fire marshal’s office and funded by property and casualty insurance companies throughout the state.
According to Georgia Arson Control’s website, up to $10,000 may be paid for information resulting in the arrest and conviction of those responsible for arson.
Bishop stressed, however, that the arson control’s program differs from crime-stoppers in that a tip must lead to a conviction before any reward is paid out.
Also in attendance were Liberty County Emergency Management Agency Director Mike Hodges, EMA Deputy Director Larry Logan and Eastern District Fire Chief Joe Martin.
Duncan said she plans on saving most of the money, although her grandson informed her that he deserves a cut, saying “I’m the one who saw it!”