COLUMBUS COUNTY, NC (WECT) - A Whiteville man is accused of trying to burn down his home in an effort to collect insurance money, according to the Columbus County Sheriff's Office.
Gebriel Jermaine Shipman, 37, is charged with insurance fraud, attempting to obtain property by false pretense, and fraudulently burning a dwelling.
Crews were dispatched April 12 around 6:30 a.m. to a structure fire call around at a home on Johnny George Road. Shipman told investigators he came home from work and found the interior of the home had been burned.
Authorities said discrepancies arose during the investigation which led to Shipman being considered a person of interest.
According to investigators, the home actually belonged to Shipman's uncle, Thomas Baldwin, who allowed his nephew to live at the residence. Shipman reportedly took out a renter's insurance policy in March. During the investigation, Shipman denied having done so.
Investigators said Shipman contacted the insurance company the day of the fire to initiate a claim. Additionally, investigators said Shipman had been delinquent on the mortgage payments for the property and that his uncle was unaware of the missed payments.
On March 7, a representative from the mortgage company met with Shipman concerning the late payments and noted that the home was fully furnished at the time. Investigators said the home had little furnishings inside when they responded to the fire.
Investigators said prior to the fire, Shipman had removed items from inside the home. On April 11, he allegedly used available materials to ignite furniture, windows coverings, and other items inside the home and left the residence to burn.
Shipman was arrested on June 13 and booked into the Columbus County Jail under a $10,000.
The Columbus County Fire Marshal's Office assisted in the investigation.