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Man returned to face arson charges

An area man wanted on arson charges in connection with a December fire at a South Point duplex is now in Lawrence County Jail.

Johnny R. Sammons Jr., 26, was arrested on March 16 in Fort Jackson, S.C., after a routine traffic stop showed he was wanted in Lawrence County. After waiving extradition, Sammons was transported back here and housed in the jail on April 5.

In March Sammons was indicted by a Lawrence County grand jury on four counts of first degree aggravated arson and one count of second degree aggravated arson.

The fire that destroyed the duplex on Stanley Drive, South Point, on Dec. 9, 2007, left two families homeless. Sammons lived there with his wife, Michele, 21, and two children, Vanessa Johnson, 6, and Melissa Sammons, 1.

In the adjoining apartment Sandra Sipps, 42, lived with her daughter, Alexis 12, son, Lathan, 16, and a friend, Tammy Woods, 40. At the time both families reported they lost everything they owned.

Volunteer firefighters from South Point, Burlington, Fayette No. 2 and Perry Township fought the blaze, which broke out about 1:30 that Sunday morning, for seven hours.

Within two weeks, the state fire marshal’s office ruled that the fire was arson.

Sammons was to appear in Common Pleas Court today for an arraignment. Each count of the first degree aggravated arson charge carries a penalty of three to 10 years. The lesser charge carries a penalty of two to eight years.