Macon woman rewarded with $3,000 for tip in 2011 arson

hgoodridge@macon.comJuly 29, 2013 

No snitching.

That’s the code for many on the streets when it comes to helping law enforcement investigators solve crimes.

“We don’t get a lot of people to come forward with problems we have,” Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins said Monday.

Those problems include $14 million in property loss from arsons in Macon-Bibb County this year alone, according to the state fire marshal’s office.

When someone does step forward providing valuable information, it’s a big deal.

Local and state fire officials held a news conference Monday to reward a tipster who provided investigators with enough information to make an arrest in a December 2011 arson on Macon’s Corbin Avenue.

The tipster, who declined to give her name for fear of retribution, attended the news conference and received a $3,000 check.

“You’re not snitching if you saw someone do something wrong,” Riggins said.

The arson she helped investigators solve was the result of a domestic dispute between two women.

“She gave a very good description (of the suspect) and a description of the vehicle,” said Macon-Bibb fire investigator Sgt. Ben Gleaton. “She also picked the suspect out of a lineup.”

Natasha Ann Williams, of Dooly County, pleaded guilty to arson and burglary in the case.

The tipster, a 32-year-old woman who works with children, didn’t know about the reward until Gleaton told her.

“I was like ‘thank you, Jesus!’’’ she said.

In her work with youth, the tipster said she’s well aware of the ‘snitches get stitches’ code on the streets.

“They say ‘no snitching,’ but that’s a bunch of bull,” she said after signing some paperwork and receiving her check. “I teach the kids I work with that if you see something wrong, tell somebody.

“This no-snitching thing is wrong, and we need to be advocates for doing the right thing,” she added. “Parents need to teach their children. ... That’s why we have all these crimes going unsolved. ... Somebody witnesses something and don’t want to say anything. You don’t have to give your name.”

State Fire Marshal M. Dwayne Garriss said people who report information about arsons that lead to an arrest are eligible for various reward amounts.

“I’ve seen $10,000, $7,000, $3,000,” he said.

The amount depends on the property damage and how the tip came about, among other factors determined by the state fire board, Garriss said.

To contact writer Harold Goodridge, call 744-4382.

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