Man arrested for setting landlord's house on fire

Man arrested for setting landlord's house on fire
George Keller (Source: Sharp County Sheriff's Department)
Jima Marshall (Source: Sharp County Sheriff's Department)
Jima Marshall (Source: Sharp County Sheriff's Department)

SHARP COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - A Sharp County man faces arson and burglary charges after authorities say he set his former landlord's home on fire.

Sharp County Dispatch received a call of a house on fire in the 1400-block of Highway 167 Tuesday. The home was fully engulfed in flames when officers and firefighters arrived.

"The fire department attempted to extinguish the blaze, but the house was too burned to save," court documents state.

Firefighters told Deputy Rick King they believed the fire was set intentionally because the home was unoccupied and there was no electricity going to the house at the time of the fire.

Deputy King noted he'd been by the house multiple times that night and it had appeared as if someone was moving out of the home.

Court documents state Deputy King didn't have to look far to find the suspect. George Keller and a woman who had been living in a portable storage building on the property were both at the scene.

They claimed the homeowner, Jima Marshall, told the two to leave after they got into an argument. They claimed an unknown male with a gun threatened to kill them multiple times if they didn't leave.

Keller and the woman said they then slept in a tent on the property next door and woke to the fire department arriving on the scene.

Suspicious of their stories, Deputy King then questioned the woman in private.

"At this time she stated she witnessed George return to Jima's house," court documents state. "…he was gone for awhile then returned excited and out of breath. A few minutes later she noticed that Jima's house was on fire."

During a Mirandized interview with Deputy King, Keller eventually admitted to setting the home on fire in the early morning hours of March 21.

Police interviewed another witness, who told police he went with Keller to the home that morning.

"George kicked in the door to the house and started ransacking the home," an affidavit says. "Then George exited the home and then took a 20lb propane tank and placed it inside of the home leaving the valve open and spraying as into the home."

The witness said Keller then tied a rock in a rag, doused the rag with lighter fluid, lit it on fire, and threw it into the home.

When asked why he helped Keller set the home on fire, the witness said, "he thought George was just joking and didn't think he would go through with it."

Police say the witness' story was much more detailed than Keller's. Police say Keller couldn't explain the presence of the propane bottle in the home.

Keller was arrested and charged with arson, a class A felony, and residential burglary, a class B felony.

Later that same day, Jima Marshall was arrested for hindering apprehension. She allegedly lied to police numerous times about the name of a man who was with her.

While being booked into the jail, Marshall gave authorities a meth pipe and some baggies she had in her jacket. However, when she was later asked to take a drug test, a bag of crystal like substance and several baggies fell out of her vagina.

"Jima stated she normally hides dope in her vagina," court documents state.

Marshall was charged with furnishing, possessing, or using prohibited articles, and possession of meth or cocaine with intent to deliver. Both charges are felonies.

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