Suspect charged in May arson

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Fire Service was looking for a suspect in an arson case and the Newton County Sheriff's Office delivered him into its hands Friday when it arrested the same man in connection with a burglary.

Christopher Todd Dunevent, 18, of 83 Pickens Road now faces charges of first-degree arson, second-degree criminal damage to property, two counts of burglary and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

Also arrested Friday was Nicolas Grier, 18, of 45 Pleasant Hill Drive, who was charged with burglary and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

NCFS was seeking Dunevent in connection with an arson on Pickens Road that occurred in May, according to Deputy Chief Tim Smith.

Smith said the fire occurred May 29 at a single-family house at 102 Pickens Road. It caused between $65,000 and $70,000 in damages, he said.

"This gentleman broke into the house and set the living room on fire," Smith said. "(Dunevent) and the homeowner had had a disagreement."

Smith said the homeowner came home and found the burned room, but the fire was already out.

"The fire had actually burned itself out due to a lack of oxygen," Smith said, adding that it had initially been set in the sofa.

"We're still investigating and there could be more arrests forthcoming," he said. "We received information for this arrest off the Arson Hot Line, so somebody will be getting a reward in the future. Please continue to call."

The Georgia Insurance and Fire Commission Arson Hot Line number is 800-282-5804. Rewards of up to $10,000 are given for information leading to the arrest and conviction of an arsonist. Calls are taken 24 hours a day and callers can choose to remain anonymous.

Also, anyone with information on this incident or other incidents of arson in Newton County can call the NCFS at 678-625-5050 or go to their Web site at www.newtoncountyfireaservice.org and leave information.

"It can be anonymous, but if they want a return call, they should leave contact information," Smith said.

NCSO Lt. Mark Mitchell said they arrested Dunevent and a second suspect Friday around 11:15 a.m. after they received a report of a burglary in progress on Shenandoah Court.

"When deputies arrived they heard movement inside the residence and were attempting to surround the house when two males ran out of the back door toward the woods," Mitchell said.

Deputies gave chase and the NCSO K-9 bloodhound was called to the scene. The dog was able to track the two directly through the woods to 20 Pickens Road where Dunevent and Grier were taken into custody without incident.

"The tracking canines are a very important part of our fight against burglars and thieves who steal from our community," Sheriff Ezell Brown said. "The bloodhounds and their handlers have been very successful in tracking and locating these offenders since we initiated the program last year, and we are very proud of their hard work and dedication."