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Macon Crime Files: Accused Payne City arsonist arrested | News

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Macon Crime Files: Accused Payne City arsonist arrested

Friday Files

Date:June 18

Location: 161 Gardner St.

Incident type: Arson

Investigators believe they've solved the mystery of the rash of intentionally set fires in Payne City during the past three weeks. Bibb County deputies were dispatched to the area Wednesday and told to make contact with a black woman about someone committing arson in the neighborhood.

When they arrived on the scene, dispatch received another call from the same person saying deputies should look for a black man with a red shirt and baseball cap.

The deputies didn't see anyone in the neighborhood during their patrol except for an older white man.

His name is James Franklin Stapleton.

He told deputies that a man in a blue truck was setting fires to Payne City houses.

Stapleton then told the deputies to let him check out the vacant house across the street from where they were standing to find the arsonist.

When Stapleton returned from the house, he told the deputies that the arsonist was leaving the scene. The deputies pursued only to find out there was no other suspect. They then saw heavy smoke coming from a home on Gardner Street. They immediately went to the house and saw Stapleton trying to run away.

They arrested him and called Bibb County fire investigators.

During the last three weeks, there have been four fires set in vacant Payne City houses.

All of the fires called in to 911 were made by Stapleton. He was also on the scene of the fires when firefighters arrived.

He's in Bibb County jail charged with first degree arson.

Date: June 19

Incident type: Panhandling

Location: Spring Street at Interstate 16

A deputy saw a man holding a sign at 6:30 p.m. stating "I HAVE CANCER, PLEASE HELP ME, I NEED $."

The deputy, who was patrolling the area, said the man was walking back and forth on the ramp with the cardboard sign. When the man noticed the deputy, he attempted to hide the sign and walk away.

The deputy drove down Spring Street and turned around only to see the man back on the ramp with the sign.

He made contact with the suspect, who was been warned in the past about panhandling.

"I asked why he was panhandling anyway. He stated 'Man, I just need money,'" the deputy said.

"I asked him if he really had cancer, he stated 'No, I don't.'"

The man was cited for panhandling, which is illegal in Bibb County, and he was banned from the overpass.

The following items are from incident reports filed by Macon-Bibb County sheriff's deputies.


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