JONES COUNTY, Miss - This is a press release from the Jones County Sheriff's Department.
On September 30, 2015, Jones County Deputies responded to call on Smith Chapel Road for a house fire. When they reached address, the home was entirely engulfed in flames. The homeowners arrived later and stated they had been attending church services. The victims told deputies they believed a family member, Sarah Whigham, 32 of Ovett, was involved because of a land dispute.
Fire Investigator for the Jones County Sheriff’s Department, Sgt. Scott Gable, went to the scene of the house fire and determined it had started in the laundry room, in the area of the clothes dryer.
On December 25, 2015, the victims of the house fire reported to the Sheriff’s Department a credit card that was known to have been in the home at the time of the fire had been used at a nearby convenience store. They also informed Investigators that they had received a notification that another credit card account had been falsely opened in their names.
On January 25, 2016, deputy Josh Welch was patrolling in Ovett when he was flagged over by Whigham. Whigham told the deputy of a disturbance nearby at the 3000 Block of Ovett-Moselle Road. When the deputy arrived at the address, he found no signs of a disturbance, but did find items belonging to the victims of the house fire on Smith Chapel Road, including birth certificates, land deeds and other credit card forms that had the names of the victims printed on them. The deputy also found drug paraphernalia inside the home that was suspected to belong to Whigham. She was taken into custody and charged with Possession of Paraphernalia.
While at the Ovett-Moselle Road location, the deputy spoke with a witness who stated she had knowledge of the house fire in September and knew of Whigham’s involvement, as well as about credit cards taken out in the victims’ names. The witness came forward and was interviewed by Jones County Sheriff’s Investigators. It was determined Whigham, on the night of September 30, 2015, broke into her family members’ home, took a safe containing personal papers, a television, guns, and other items. According to the witness Whigham said, “If I can’t have the house, no one can,” and started the fire at the clothes dryer. The victims also lost the family pet in the fire.
Whigham is charged with Burglary, Arson, and Personal Identification Information Obtained for Unlawful Use. Her initial appearance at Jones County Justice Court is Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 1pm.
For any additional information as it comes available, feel free to contact Allyson Knotts at 601-428-3151.