Arson Investigators Sign Warrants on New Pike Road Suspect: Also A Volunteer Firefighter

James Wilhite
James Wilhite

There is new information to report from the on-going investigation into a string of arsons in Pike Road.

State agents and Montgomery County deputies have a new suspect linked to the first arson case back in 2005.

And like the first two suspects, he's a former Pike Road volunteer firefighter.

When investigators first announced the ten thousand dollar reward, they pinpointed a single fire as the start of a two year string - a barn on Wallahatchee Road. Now, they have a second suspect in that fire. His name: James Wilhite.

"A 22 year old former volunteer firefighter with Pike Road Volunteer Fire Department," said State Fire Marshal Ed Paulk.

Wilhite isn't under arrest for the arson yet, because Henry County busted him on his third count of driving without a license. Paulk says he will provide an important bookend to the 15 fire string.

"We feel pretty sure we know who's involved," said Paulk.

Coincidentally, when investigators arrested suspect Jason Green, the barn fire was also the only count they leveled against him. Days later, officers added 11 more counts against Green, and Paulk says he thinks the pattern will hold.

"Naturally, since we've found evidence to indicate they're involved in the six, we consider them suspects in the other fires also," he said.

Paulk says that should give pause to the other unnamed suspects. Now that investigators have a better frame around the case and multiple information sources, it's just a matter of time before they solve the remaining nine arsons. Paulk says those suspects should think about turning themselves in.

"I think possibly that would taken into consideration by a judge pronouncing sentence," he said.

Paulk says naming Wilhite as a suspect should demonstrate two things.

First, that agents are finally starting to chip away at the most difficult part of this investigation - the 2005 fires that happened before anyone noticed a pattern.

And secondly, that the momentum is shifting - that more people are coming forward to solve the crimes.

Wilhite will stay in the Henry County jail until the state finishes work on the traffic cases against him.

Neither Paulk nor sheriff D.T. Marshall can say when they'll bring Wilhite back to Montgomery County.