Investigators Say They've Cracked "Revenge Arson" Case In Pearlington

There's been a major break in the case of two fires in the Pearlington Community late last year.

Authorities on Friday issued arrest warrants for five men they believe are connected with the Cuevas Grocery Store fire back in December, and another fire at the store owner's home. They believe revenge was the motive behind the crimes.

Sheriff's officials already have three of the men in custody - Marlon Dawsey of Pearlington, James Carver and Jimmie East of Pearl River County. The other two arrest warrants are for Dawsey's sons.

Authorities originally suspected arson in the fire that left the Pearlington community without a grocery store.

"They poured gas in it lit it and left," Chief Investigator Kenny Hurt said.

The Sheriff's Department's Chief Administrator Ronnie Cuevas owned the store that burned down. A few weeks later, authorities say his home was torched.

"Not only did they burn his business, but then he's home sleeping at night and someone's on top of his house and trying to burn his house with him in it," Hancock County Sheriff Steve Garber said.

Investigators believe James Carver and Jimmie East are responsible for both fires. Deputies say the duo was hired by Marlon Dawsey and his two sons to get back at the Sheriff's Department for arresting the Dawseys in connection with a chop shop operation.

"It's a thing where I think they felt, 'we're going to show the Sheriff's Department that we're above the law' and I'm here to say that nobody's above the law. The Sheriff Department's not above the law and the citizens aren't above the law. I think it got to be a game, but I didn't think it was a funny game," Garber said.

James Carver was also charged with the theft of a truck Sheriff's officials seized during the chop shop bust. Officials say it was stolen while at the home of the Department's Chief Investigator.

"It's scary to know somebody followed me home. It's scary to know they went to that extent to do this," Hurt said.

"This was almost like something you should see in a movie," Garber said.

Sheriff's Investigators say they, along with several other law enforcement agencies, have worked virtually around the clock to solve the theft and arson cases.

"This is one of our own and we decided if it kept us up at night in order to solve this case, we were going to do what ever we could," Investigator Andre Fizer said.

Investigators say the other two suspects are out of town, but they hope to have them in custody soon. If convicted, each man could face up to 20 years in prison.

by Al Showers