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Alleged arsonist Huggins remains in jail

By Walter Geiger Local law enforcement and fire officials are hopeful a long string of escalating local arsons is at an end after the arrest March 9 of a woman charged in nine of those cases. Connie Dale Huggins, 61, of 303 Olivia Lane was caught in the act of setting a fire after BPD investigators got a tip and staked out an area. Capt. Craig Cooper walked up on her at a home at 226 Atlanta Street where she was trying to set a fire and had a lighter in her hand. Huggins appeared in court Friday before chief magistrate Karen R. Jackson for a first appearance hearing on nine counts of first degree arson in connection with a rash of house and vehicle fires along Atlanta Street. Huggins initially balked at entering the courtroom after seeing still and video cameras trained on her. She kept her head down and answered ‘˜yes ma’am’ and ‘˜no ma’am’ to Judge Jackson’s questions. She is charged with setting structure fires at 302, 226, 148, 225, 236 and 237 Atlanta Street. She is charged with vehicle arsons at 327 and 237 Atlanta Street and at 204 Olivia Lane. The vehicles torched included a 2007 BMW, 1995 Olds Cutlass and 1994 Mitsubishi Montero. In denying bond, Judge Jackson told Huggins, ‘You pose a significant threat to Lamar County and the safety of its citizens.’ Huggins will be represented by the public defender’s office and additional charges are expected. Huggins has a history of arson. She was arrested here in 2006 on an arson charge. In 2009, she was arrested in Griffin in connection with nine fires including one at a church. Huggins was convicted in Spalding County and sentenced to five years in prison. She was released on July 8, 2013 after serving less than 29 months. The string of arsons here worried authorities because of escalation. The first were grass and woods fires then graduated to unoccupied then occupied homes. Fire chief Steve Andrews called the arson spree a ‘serious life hazard situation’. Officials went public with an arson hotline number offering a $10,000 reward for a conviction March 8. Within 24 hours, Huggins was in jail.

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