SFMO Fire Investigators Assist in Convictions in Tipton, McMinn County Arson Cases

Thursday, August 10, 2017 | 11:41am

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee State Fire Marshal’s Office (SFMO) Fire Investigations Section announces two recent arson-related convictions in Tipton and McMinn counties where state fire investigators played significant roles in helping bring arsonists to justice.  

  • Linda Anne Dunavant was convicted by a Tipton County jury on July 21, 2017 of crimes related to an April 1, 2016 fire in Covington that claimed the lives of her two grandchildren (a 6-month-old and an 18-month-old). Dunavant was convicted of two counts of first-degree murder in the perpetration of or attempt to perpetrate arson, two counts of aggravated arson, two counts of aggravated child neglect, and one count of aggravated assault. State Fire Marshal’s Office fire investigators Steve McClure, Ryan Shanklin, Bryan Allen and Accelerant Detection Canine Officer Wrigley worked with Covington Police and Fire departments to gather evidence used in the case. 
  • In May 2017, Jerry Livingston pleaded guilty to a charge of arson in McMinn County Criminal Court and was sentenced to three years in a state correctional facility plus fines and restitution for attempting to burn his own home on June 24, 2015 for financial gain in Athens (McMinn County). State Fire Marshal’s Office fire investigator Heith Willis worked with Athens Fire and McMinn County officials to gather evidence in the case. 

“The State Fire Marshal’s Office has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to arson and arson-related crimes,” said Tennessee Department of Commerce & Insurance Deputy Commissioner Gary West. “Our team works in tandem with state and local partners to help bring arsonists to justice and ensure arsonists are apprehended and convicted. I congratulate our investigators and our local partners on the successful conclusions of these two cases.”

To report a suspected arson, call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017. The Arson Hot Line is a phone line dedicated to receiving information about suspicious and incendiary fires. It is answered 24 hours a day and you may remain anonymous when providing information. Cash awards are offered for information leading to an arrest or conviction.


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