Local mayor is victim of arson
An arson investigation is underway in McMinn County. The victim is a local leader. A double wide trailer belonging to Calhoun, Tennessee Mayor John Walker was burned down, just days after he reported someone had been trespassing there.
Mayor Walker owns several rental properties around town and this isn't the first one hit by criminals. The McMinn County Sheriff's Office and Tennessee Bomb and Arson investigators are working together to determine who is responsible for this most recent case.
A pile of charred boards, beams and siding is all that's left of the double wide trailer Calhoun Mayor John Walker tells Channel 3 he intended to use as rental property.
"We take it very seriously. That's a person's property and a fire completely destroys a person's property," McMinn County Sheriff Joe Guy said.
The state is offering a $1,500 reward, and Mayor Walker is pitching in an additional $2,500 of his own money for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible. They say it's clear the fire was started intentionally.
Mayor Walker says he drove by it around 10 p.m. on October 24th and it was fine, but by the next morning it had burned to the ground. The fire department was never called by any witnesses.
"A fire of that magnitude, you would think that someone might have seen that in the area so that is something we're looking at," Sheriff Guy said.
The property sits along County Road 733 just outside the town limits of Calhoun with few homes nearby and not a lot of traffic.
"It's very unusual, but not out of the realm of possibilities," Sheriff Guy said.
Mayor Walker owns another trailer that sits right beside the burned one, but it was not touched. He owns several rental properties throughout the Calhoun area. This isn't the first time the sheriff's office has been called out to one.
"He just seems to be the victim of some thefts, some arsons, or some suspicious fires at the very least," Sheriff Guy said.
Investigators say it's possible there's a target on him due to the fact that he's well-known in the community, but can't say for sure if any other previous incidents are connected.
Mayor Walker had called deputies out to that same trailer a few days before the fire to report a small burnt area on the inside.
If you have information that could earn you that $4,000 reward, call the Tennessee Arson Hotline at 1-800-762-3017.